With a track record in the final heat, and the best time for the whole competition, Tina Hermann (GER) has become world champion in women’s skeleton once again. The 27-year-old secured her third World Championship title in Altenberg this year, after winning the title in 2016 and 2019. This marks the first time that a female skeleton athlete has achieved this feat. The previous record holder for the World Championship titles was Maya Pedersen-Bieri of Switzerland, who won twice and came second once.
There was plenty drama on the final day of racing, as Switzerland’s Marina Gilardoni had a clear lead throughout the first three runs. Tina Hermann began the fourth and final run as the penultimate starter in second place. Setting a new track record (57.77 seconds), the overall winner of the 2016 World Cup achieved an almost perfect run. Hermann later commented saying, “I was annoyed that I hadn’t managed to get in a perfect run earlier. But I knew: I can get a track record here. Before the final heat, I said to myself ‘Now is the time, you can do it.”
As the final athlete to start, Marina Gilardoni then lost her lead with a minor mistake and crossed the finish line with the second-best time overall. She came within 0.22 seconds of beating Hermann, who waited in the leaders box and could hardly believe her luck, but Gilardoni had to settle for second. After winning European Championship silver, the Swiss athlete now has won her first ever medal in skeleton at the World Championships. Coincidentally, the last Swiss athlete to win a World Championship medal in the women’s skeleton was Maya Pedersen-Bieri who also won silver at the 2007 event in St. Moritz (SUI).
Gilardoni was able to look past her shortcomings today, saying “I definitely won the silver; I didn’t lose gold. I am super pleased with my runs and the medal. Unfortunately, my fourth run was not as good as the others. The mistake opened up the door for Tina to climb up. And it’s always difficult to race against a track record.”
World Championship bronze in Altenberg went to Janine Flock (AUT). Finishing 1.21 seconds behind Hermann, the 2016 and 2019 European Champion thus won her second World Championship medal after winning silver in Innsbruck in 2016. Flock was a bit reserved in her celebrations, stating “There was a mistake in my second run yesterday but I was able to compensate for that today. However, I made another stupid mistake in the Kreisel in the final heat today. It wasn’t my goal at all to get a medal here so, of course, I am more than happy that I was able to fight my way up from fourth place.”
The overall winner of the World Cup, Jacqueline Lölling (GER), 1.39 seconds back) only just missed out on the medals in fourth. She finished 1.39 seconds behind her teammate and lost out to Flock for the bronze.
The European Champion Elena Nikitina (RUS) holds the new starting record for Altenberg at 5.26 seconds. Unfortunately, she was unable to use that start speed to propel her towards the podium, and so she finished the 2020 IBSF World Championships in fifth place.
For full results from the 2020 IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships, check the IBSF’s website (www.ibsf.org). Totallympics Media will continue it’s coverage of the Championships tomorrow.