At the halfway point of the World Championships in Altenberg, the defending title holder Francesco Friedrich (GER) is on his way to his sixth successive title in the 2-man bobsleigh. Following two of the four runs at the 2020 BMW IBSF World Championships, Friedrich and his brakeman Thorsten Margis already lead by almost a whole second. There are 0.94 seconds between Friedrich/Margis and their team-mate Nico Walther with Eric Franke (GER).
Of his fellow countryman and rival, Walter said “It was clear to me from the get-go that Franz is racing in a whole other league. Behind that, we’re in a very good position.” The time difference between the two would seem to reflect that sentiment, though Walter believed a late start draw in the first heat could be to blame for some that.
Johannes Lochner/Christopher Weber (GER) currently sit 1.09 seconds behind the leaders. Lochner also blamed a high start draw for his performance, saying “It was our goal to fight our way up into striking distance of around fifth place or so after having such a high starting number.” Luckily for Lochner/Weber, they find themselves sitting in third at the end of the first two heats.
Lochner/Weber are followed by the Junior World Champions Richard Oelsner/Malte Schwenzfeier (GER). Germany currently occupies the top 4 positions in the men’s 2-man race, much to the delight of the home crowd.
The crowds have been quite supportive of the athletes, with Johannes Lochner saying “The crowds are incredible, which makes it so much fun. I am ten times more motivated; even while you’re sliding, you can feel just how great the atmosphere is. That is what life as an athlete is all about.”
European Champions Oskars Kibermanis/Matiss Miknis of Latvia fell back into fifth place during the second of four heats. They do remain the top non-German sled however, 1.12 seconds off the leading time of Friedrich.
The U23 World Champions Mihai Tentea/Ciprian Darozi of Romania will start the second day of World Championship action in sixth place overall. Romania is still looking for a breakthrough in men’s bobsleigh. They haven’t medaled in the sport at the Olympics since 1968. That year saw Ion Panturu and Nicolae Neagoe claim Romania’s sole Olympic bobsleigh medal.
Heat one saw the Olympic Champions Friedrich/Margis set a new record for the track. At 54.00 seconds, they were almost half a second faster than the old record, which Friedrich set in January 2017 with the brake athlete Martin Grothkopp. Friedrich admitted to being a little disappointed with his performance, saying “There were a few small mistakes in run one, but run two was really good. The weather today is also suited to our setup. The track record was our goal. It’s just a shame that we didn’t quite manage to stay under 54 seconds today.”
Runs three and four of the 2020 World Championships will take place at 14:30 and 16:00 local time on Sunday. 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.