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Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

Olympic silver medalist Kerstin Szymkowiak ignited her nephew‘s skeleton passion

St. Moritz (RWH) Samuel Keiser (SUI) has an experienced godmother in the sport of skeleton: The 22-year-old is the nephew of Kerstin Szymkowiak (GER). The Olympic silver medalist from Vancouver 2010 is married to a Swiss. From 2012 to 2015, the now 43-year-old was head of sports at Swiss Sliding and organized, among other things, taster days for skeleton and bobsleigh youngsters in St. Moritz. "In spring 2014, two years before the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games, my nephew was 15 years old. High time to start skeleton," Kerstin Szymkowiak tells. "Samuel still had a big grin on his face after the second run in St. Moritz. And wanted a third time right after the second ride, too. The flame was lit, I think!" Samuel Keiser narrowly missed out on the targeted qualification for the Youth Winter Games in 2016, but still remained true to the sport.

Support from the sporting role model in the family continued, of course - whether in the form of motivation from the much-admired Olympic medal and advice or technical support with special sports clothing or the sled for training sprints with extra weight. Speaking of clothing: his aunt's racing suits brought Samuel Keiser support from the Horse Shoe bar of former bobsled pilot Martin Annen from St. Moritz early in his career. "He was amazed when he saw the name of his bar pass by in St. Moritz on the suit of a skeleton athlete he didn't know," says Kerstin Szymkowiak. "The Horse-Shoe-Bar was one of my sponsors from 2008 to 2010, and Martin Annen immediately wanted to know who would be racing through the sliding track in my racing suit. It's clear that Samuel can also count on his support since then."

By the way, the young athlete earned his first starting place in the BMW IBSF World Cup for the winter of 2020/2021 himself: with several top ten places in the IBSF Europe Cup and Intercontinental Cup, Samuel Keiser finished the 2019/2020 season as the best Swiss in 38th place in the IBSF ranking. Currently, rank 17 at the BMW IBSF World Cup at the season opener in Sigulda (LAT) and rank 18 at the European Championships in Winterberg (GER) are the best season results in the lists so far. In the overall World Cup ranking, Samuel Keiser is on rank 17 before the home World Cup on Friday (January 15) in St. Moritz. And the further big goal is clear: "I think he wants to talk to me as soon as possible about the experience of Olympic Winter Games", says Kerstin Szymkowiak. ©RWH2021

Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

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