After the first day of the World Championships in 4-man bobsleigh, all signs point towards a thrilling race to the podium in the finals. Nico Walther (GER) has taken the lead after two of four runs, ahead of Oskars Kibermanis (LAT), Johannes Lochner (GER), and the teams under Justin Kripps (CAN) and Francesco Friedrich (GER), who both finished on the same time. Ahead of the finals, a mere 0.09 seconds separates the five 4-man teams.
Nico Walther sits on top currently with Paul Krenz, Joshua Bluhm and Eric Franke. The quartet managed to jump from third to first place following their second race. Walter was careful not to overreact to their success today, stating “We really benefitted from the fact that we made the fewest mistakes. It was always our aim to be in the running for a medal. If that works out tomorrow, we can return home very happy after a difficult season.”
Behind them was Oskars Kibermanis with Lauris Kaufmanis, David Springs and Matiss Miknis. They sit just 0.05 seconds behind the attacks, and are primed to attack the track on day 2 of competition. Kibermanis was pretty jovial after today’s heats, saying “It’s all good. There were a few small errors here and there – in the second race we had some issues mounting the bob at the start. The real battle starts tomorrow. It’s such a close race, it’s going to be fun.”
The Latvians are just 0.01 seconds ahead of third place; European Champion Johannes Lochner and his team of Florian Bauer, Christopher Weber and Christian Rasp. Lochner was actually more scared of his rivals coming from behind, saying “Franz didn’t hit the second run at all, but he’s not far off. He’ll be back on top tomorrow, I’m sure. We have to pull ourselves together, too. You just have to look at the times – everything is possible, just like for Kripps and Kibermanis. It’s going to come down to the last run.”
Coming on fourth on the same time, just 0.09 seconds behind Team Walther in first place, were Olympic Champion Francesco Friedrich with Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Alexander Schüller, and the Canadian team of Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cameron Stones and Benjamin Coakwell. They will need perfect lines to stay in contention for the podium, the slightest mistake could cost any of the top 5 dearly.
The first run in Altenberg saw one of the oldest records in bob history broken: In January 1996, Christoph Langen/Sven Rühr/Markus Zimmermann/Olaf Hampel (GER) achieved a starting time of 5.04 seconds. In the 24 years that followed, no other 4-man bob team has been able to top their time over the first few metres. That all changed thanks to Olympic Champion Francesco Friedrich (GER) with Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Alexander Schueller, who achieved a starting time of 5.01 seconds to beat the record.
The World Championship final in 4-man bob continues on Sunday, starting at 13:00 local time. You can watch the races on the IBSF’s YouTube channel, or on your television via your national broadcaster. To look at a detailed version of results visit www.ibsf.org. Totallympics Media will continue it’s coverage of the 2020 IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships tomorrow.