Piloting a golden path
A double Olympic champion in Sochi in 2014, Alexander Zubkov is the most successful Russian bobsleigh specialist of all time.
Podiums in Turin and Vancouver
Born in the Siberian city of Bratsk, Alexander Zubkov participated in his first Olympic Winter Games in Nagano in 1998, finishing 20th in the men’s luge. He then turned his attention to bobsleigh, gradually developing into one of the top pilots in the world. At Turin 2006, in the company of Filipp Yegorov, Alexsey Seliverstov and Alexey Voevoda, he made history by spurring on the four-man Russian bob to a silver medal on the Cesana Pariol track, finishing just 0.13 seconds behind a strong German quartet that featured the legendary André Lange. Four years later in Vancouver, Zubkov and Voevoda clinched bronze in the two-man event, as German teams took silver and gold.
Retirement in 2010
In the meantime, Zubkov finished top of the overall FIBT World Cup standings three times, in 2005, 2006 and 2009, and got his hands on four FIBT World Championship medals. Deciding that he lacked the resources to pursue his bobsleigh adventure at the very highest level, he announced his retirement in the summer of 2010 and became minister of sport for his home region of Irkutsk, stating, “I’ve got no intention of returning to the track.” At that point he was already the most successful Russian in bobsleigh history.
Back on top of the world
The prospect of competing at his fifth Winter Games in front of a home crowd saw Zubkov return to the track at the age of 36 and he enjoyed a fruitful 2010-2011 season. Having already captured the two-man World Cup title, he and Voevoda were crowned world champions in Königssee (GER) on 20 February 2011 – the first Russians to achieve the feat. The evergreen athlete went on to capture four-man World Cup titles in 2012 and 2013, as well as a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in St. Moritz (SUI).
Scaling the heights at home
Zubkov, who was 40 going into Sochi 2014, carried the Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony, and then led by example at the Sanki Sliding Centre, becoming just the sixth pilot in history to win gold in the two-man and four-man disciplines. He emerged victorious in the two-man with trusted partner Alexey Voevoda, putting in a commanding performance to finish ahead of Beath Hefti and Alex Baumann (SUI), while in the four-man he overcame a tough challenge from the Latvians to triumph by the tightest of margins (0.09 seconds) alongside Voevoda, Alexey Negodaylo and Dmitry Trunenkov.