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Athletes from four continents with chance for a medal in the 2-woman bobsleigh
Yanqing (RWH): Europe and North America as well as Australia and Asia are all represented when it comes to the favourites in the 2-woman bobsleigh. When the female bobsleigh athletes battle it out for gold, silver and bronze again on 18 and 19 February, the Olympic Champions from the last three Winter Games are all high up the list of athletes most likely to secure an Olympic medal.
Kaillie Humphries (USA) won Olympic gold in the 2-woman bobsleigh in 2010 and 2014 and also won bronze in 2018. Humphries competed for Canada at all three previous Winter Games. However, for the Olympic races at Beijing 2022, Kaillie Humphries is piloting a sled for Team USA. She did not officially receive her citizenship until December 2021, when she flew back to the USA just before the World Cup race in Altenberg (GER) so that she could receive her certificate in person. In addition to her two Olympic titles in the 2-woman bobsleigh – and her brand new Olympic gold in the monobob from Beijing – Kaillie Humphries is also a record-breaking World Champion with four titles (2012 and 2013, 2020 and 2021) and has won the overall World Cup on four occasions. Her team-mate Elana Meyers Taylor (USA) will start the race in Beijing as the overall winner of the 2021/2022 World Cup and the silver medallist from the monobob event.
Mariama Jamanka (GER), the 2018 Olympic Champion, did not win any World Cup races in the 2-woman bobsleigh in the 2021/2022 season. However, with three second-place finishes, a European Championship silver medal and a second-place finish during the Olympic trials in Yanqing in October 2021, the 31-year-old – who is planning to retire after the 2-woman bobsleigh race at the Olympics – is still one of the big favourites for a medal. The same goes for her team-mate Laura Nolte. The youngest pilot in Germany’s bobsleigh team is already a decorated Olympian, having won gold at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games. She has been a mainstay at the front of the field since her first World Cup appearance in January 2020. From her 18 races over the past two years, she has only failed to reach the podium on just four occasions. Finishing in fourth (Nolte) and 13th (Jamanka), neither pilots were happy with their results in the monobob and will now be putting their all into the 2-woman bobsleigh. And Germany’s third Olympic pilot is in a similar boat: In January, Kim Kalicki confidently slid to the European Championship title in St Moritz – a track that is similar in length to the Yanqing Sliding Center. And the 2020 Junior World Champion demonstrated that her nerves are strong enough for a four-run event when she won World Championship silver in 2020 and 2021.
After North America and Europe, continent number three is represented by Breeana Walker, who is at least among the wider group of favourites for a medal. With a fifth-place finish, the Australian pilot has already enjoyed success in the monobob – if her first day of racing hadn’t been so full of ups and downs, she would have been a shoe-in for a medal after securing the second-best time in both runs on the second day of Olympic action.
And last but not least, the Chinese pilots Huai Mingming and Ying Qing have Asia’s best chance of winning an Olympic medal – thanks to countless training sessions, the hosts know their home track like the backs of their hands. The athletes finished in sixth and ninth in the monobob. ©RWH2022
Kaillie Humphries to start as Olympic Champion in the women’s monobob
Yanqing (RWH): Kaillie Humphries (USA) will start the 2-woman bobsleigh event fresh from winning sporting history’s first ever Olympic gold in the women’s monobob. Now a three-time Olympic Champion (gold for Canada in the 2-woman bobsleigh in 2010 and 2014, gold for the USA in the monobob in 2022) and a bronze medallist in the 2-woman bobsleigh from 2018, she is the most successful female bobsleigh pilot in Olympic history. Another athlete with four medals to her name – bronze as the brakewoman for Erin Pac in 2010, silver in the 2-woman bobsleigh in 2014 and 2018, and monobob silver in 2022 – is Elana Meyers Taylor. Both athletes have shared the Olympic podium at the last four Winter Games. Olympic bronze in the women’s monobob went to Christine de Bruin of Canada – the fifth medal since 2010 for the Canadian female bobsleigh athletes. ©RWH2022
Friedrich, Lochner and Hafer win Olympic medals in 2-man bob
Yanqing (RWH) Bobsleigh pilot Francesco Friedrich (GER) has won his second Olympic gold in the 2-man bobsleigh at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. At the Yanqing Sliding Center, Friedrich and pusher Thorsten Margis, who had already pushed the sled to Olympic victory in 2018, relegated their teammates Johannes Lochner/Florian Bauer (GER) to silver. For Lochner/Bauer it’s the first Olympic medal. The bronze medal of Beijing 2022 was secured by Christoph Hafer/Matthias Sommer (GER). It was the first time in bobsleigh history that athletes from one nation won all Olympic medals in one of the disciplines. ©RWH2022
The 2021/2022 season winners – 2-woman bobsleigh and 4-man bobsleigh
Medallists from the Olympic trials in Yanqing
Yanqing (RWH): Laura Nolte/Deborah Levi (GER) were the winners of the Olympic trials for the 2-woman bobsleigh in Yanqing Sliding Center in October 2021. Mariama Jamanka/Vanessa Mark finished second ahead of Canada’s Christine de Bruin/Kristen Bujnowski. In the 4-man bobsleigh, Francesco Friedrich (GER) and his squad beat his team-mate Johannes Lochner and Oskars Kibermanis of Latvia. ©RWH2022
Friedrich also favourite in 4-man after winning Olympic gold in 2-man bobsleigh
Yanqing (RWH) 2-man bobsleigh gold has not diminished his role as favourite: in the 4-man bobsleigh, too, there is no way around Francesco Friedrich (GER) in this question. The 2018 Olympic Champion has since won three World Championships titles in the large sled and only failed to make the podium in three World Cup races.
Despite the impressive numbers, however, the competitors are by no means without a chance: Athletes from six other nations on the 4-man bobsleigh podium in the Olympic winter - Justin Kripps (CAN), Rostislav Gaitiukevich (ROC), Brad Hall (GBR), Oskars Ķibermanis (LAT), Benjamin Maier (AUT) and Hunter Church (USA) - promise plenty of excitement at the end of the Olympic races at the Yanqing Sliding Center. And the 2-man bobsleigh medallists Johannes Lochner and Christoph Hafer from the German team should also be a force to be reckoned with again.
Oskars Ķibermanis (LAT) had won the last 4-man bobsleigh race against Francesco Friedrich. At the 2021-2022 World Cup Final in St. Moritz (SUI), the Latvian team won against the Friedrich crew and captured gold when the race was simultaneously classified as a European Championship. With 1,615 metres of competition track, the Yanqing Sliding Centre is similar in length to the Olympic Bobrun St. Moritz-Celerina (1,722 metres) and the cold and dry weather also gives the tracks a certain kinship despite the distance of almost 8,000 kilometres.
Maier, Kripps, Gaitiukevich and Hall are likely to start in the 4-man bobsleigh with special motivation: Benjamin Maier (AUT) and Rostislav Gaitiukevich (ROS) were already within reach of the podium places in the 2-man bobsleigh, but missed out on a medal. Justin Kripps (CAN), 2-man bobsleigh Olympic Champion in 2018 tied with Friedrich/Margis, finished tenth in Beijing this time, one place ahead of Brad Hall (GBR), who crashed in the third run.
Li Chunjian and Sun Kaizhi will be competing for Olympic host China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. The two 25-year-old bobsleigh pilots had finished the World Cup season in 24th and 27th place. In the 2-man bobsleigh race at the Beijing Winter Games, Sun Kaizhi finished 14th, teammate Li Chunjian was 22nd ©RWH2022
Starting order for the 2-woman bobsleigh and 4-man bobsleigh
* Female bobsleigh pilots who finished in the top 10 (for the men: pilots in the top 12) in the IBSF rankings, World Championships or Winter Olympics in the past 2 seasons are excluded from the draw for places 1 to 3 in the first run. These athletes will be awarded their starting position based on their current IBSF ranking.
Olympic schedule for the 2-woman bobsleigh and 4-man bobsleigh
Subject to changes – Up-to-date times (local time at the track and the user’s local time) are listed on the IBSF website. ©RWH2022
On the sidelines
Olympic Champion Lisa Buckwitz (GER) is back on the Olympic ice. The 27-year-old, who won Olympic gold in PyeongChang (KOR) in 2018 as a brakewoman with her pilot Mariama Jamanka, began her own training as a bobsleigh pilot following the Winter Games four years ago. And to great success: In the IBSF European Cup, Lisa Buckwitz has already celebrated several wins and podium finishes in the 2-woman bobsleigh and won silver at the 2021 Junior World Championships. At her only World Cup appearance as a pilot to date, she finished in seventh place. Lisa Buckwitz has been back on the German team as a brakewoman since December 2021, securing two victories on her two appearances with pilot Kim Kalicki as well as the European Championship title in St Moritz (SUI). ©RWH2022
Montell Douglas (GBR) is the first female British athlete to compete at both the Summer and Winter Olympics. At Beijing 2022, she will be the brakewoman for pilot Mica McNeill in the 2-woman bobsleigh – 14 years after competing in the 100 metres and the 4 x 100 event at the 2008 Summer Olympics, which also took place in Beijing. “It’s been a journey for me and because we’ve had a number of men but no women to represent GB in Summer and Winter Games” said Montell Douglas in an interview with athleticsweekly.com. “It was something that I really wanted to achieve. I’m blown away.” ©RWH2022
Alexandra Burghardt (GER) is just the fourth German athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The only other athletes to achieve this feat prior to the sprinter – who only just lost out in the 100-metre semi-finals at the Tokyo Games in the summer and who is now starting as the brakewoman for Mariama Jamanka – are Thorsten Voss (summer 1988 and winter 1998) Christa Luding-Rothenburger (summer 1988 and winter 1984, 1988, 1992) and Manfred Schumann (summer 1972 and winter 1976). Now 62, Christa Luding-Rothenburger won five medals during her appearances: four in the winter/speed skating (gold 1984/500 metres, 1988/1,000 metres), silver (1988/500 metres) and bronze (1992/500 metres), as well as one silver in track cycling at Seoul 1988. Voss, the 1997 decathlon World Champion, won Olympic silver in 1988 and finished in eighth place in Harald Czudaj's 4-man bobsleigh squad. In 1972, Manfred Schumann failed to qualify from the heats for the 110-metre hurdles but then went on to win silver in the 2-man bobsleigh and bronze in the 4-man bobsleigh in 1976, when he competed in pilot Wolfgang Zimmerer’s sled. ©RWH2022
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