Axel Jungk wins silver ahead of Alexander Gassner with bronze
Altenberg (RWH) A trio of athletes from the World Championship hosts Germany have won gold, silver and bronze in the men’s skeleton at the 2020 BMW IBSF World Championships. Over the space of two days and four runs, Christopher Grotheer, Alexander Gassner and Axel Jungk (all GER) delivered an exceptionally tense race at the track in Altenberg. The order of the medal winners eventually came down to just five hundredths of a second, about 15 centimeter.
Gold and the World Championship title went to the surprise winner Christopher Grotheer for the first time in his career. The 2019 Team World Champion, who did not compete in this season’s World Cup, joined the World Championship team right at the last second after his team-mate Felix Keisinger secured his own place in the competition by winning the Junior World Championships. In the final and deciding heat, Grotheer managed to scrape back a whole two hundredths of a second as he passed the finish line in Altenberg to become the first German winner since Andy Böhme in 2000.
Second place went to his team-mate Axel Jungk, who therefore won World Championship silver for the second time in his career after winning his first medal back in 2017. Jungk had the best time in three of the heats but it was his second run, in which he was third fastest, that ultimately cost the local hero the title. World Championship bronze and the third medal for the German team was won by Alexander Gassner (0.05 seconds back).
The men’s skeleton has only seen a triple victory by a single team once before: the medals at the 1991 Championships in Innsbruck (AUT) went to the three Austrians Christian Auer, Andi Schmid and Michael Grünberger.
Martins Dukurs (LAT), the defending World Champion and still undisputed record-holder with a total of six World Championship golds, was left without a World Championship medal for the first time since 2009. The 2010 and 2014 Olympic silver medallist finished fourth in Altenberg ahead of Junior World Champion Felix Keisinger (GER) and Olympic Champion Sungbin Yun (KOR).
The best performance by a skeleton athlete from future Olympic hosts China at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Altenberg came from Wengang Yan in eleventh. ©RWH2020
Christopher Grotheer (GER, 2020 World Champion, 2019 Team World Champion)
“The last run wasn’t good; I thought I hadn’t done enough. But I really pushed hard again down at the bottom. I already noticed ahead of the third run that I was more nervous today than I was on the first day. I can’t believe I pulled it off.”
Axel Jungk (GER, runner-up in the 2017 and 2020 World Championships, second place in the overall 2018 World Cup)
“It’s annoying that my second run went so pear-shaped. Christopher managed to get in four really good runs, pure and simple. Somehow, two hundredths of a second are more of a bitter pill to swallow than if it had been two tenths.”
Alexander Gassner (GER, third in the 2020 World Championships and fifth in the 2020 European Championships and overall World Cup)
“I could have done without that tiny mistake on the last corner on my last run. We delivered an incredible race and I had actually been hoping to fight my way to the top today to win gold. But the other two were stronger today and I am happy with third place.“
all Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis