Baltic brothers Martins and Tomass Dukurs vying for skeleton gold
Following in the footsteps of their father Dainis, an ex-bobsleigh specialist, brothers Martins and Tomass Dukurs are currently ranked among the globe’s top skeleton racers. Martins, world number one, is the gold medal favourite at Sochi 2014, where he dreams of sharing the podium with his elder sibling.
During the month preceding the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the same man emerged victorious from each of the five events on the FIBT Skeleton World Cup calendar. From Winterberg (GER) on 3 January to Schönau am Königsee (GER) on 26 January, a period that also included two races in St. Moritz (SUI) and one in Igls (AUT), Latvia’s Martins Dukurs took top honours every single time.
Even more remarkably, on each occasion he was joined on the podium by his elder brother, Tomass, who secured four second places and a third during the same period. For the dominant Dukurs brothers it was business as usual, after the two finished first and second in the 2012-2013 overall rankings.
Of the two, it is 29-year old Martins who has shone the brightest since rising to prominence in 2009. He won a silver medal at the Vancouver Games in 2010, before landing successive world titles in 2011 and 2012 and four consecutive European crowns between 2010 and 2013. He has also topped the overall World Cup standings every season since 2009-2010.
During the 2012-2013 campaign, the younger Dukurs brother prevailed in eight out of nine races, and now boasts 31 successes on the World Cup circuit. One of the many highlights of his impressive career to date was his FIBT World Championship victory at Lake Placid in February 2012, when he claimed first place in all four runs, finishing with an incredible lead of 2.08 seconds over Germany’s Frank Rommel.
Double dream for Dukurs Snr
The Dukurs brothers grew up a stone’s throw from the Sigulda skeleton track, of which their father and coach, former Latvian bobsleigh champion Dainis Dukurs, is now the manager. “When I began working at the track in 1994, I had both my sons try the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton,” he recalls. “When they lay down on the sled, they fell in love with the sport. And they just kept getting better and better.”
The Dukurs contingent is now fully focused on adding to their country’s Olympic medal haul. “There are no secrets between us,” explains Martins. “Even though we’re competing against each other, if one of us finds a good line, or makes a mistake during a run, we share that information.”
For Tomass, three years older than his brother, the family rivalry is a motivational factor. “It enables us to improve and pushes us to become better athletes. Sochi is the most important event of the season, and we’ve been training intensively to put in our best efforts when we get there.”
Martins is undoubtedly the big favourite to win Latvia’s first ever gold at the Olympic Winter Games. On 15 February 2013, he slid to an outstanding two-run victory in a World Cup event held at the Sanki Sliding Centre, north-east of Sochi. It is a result that augurs well for February 2014. “If I’m not on top form, if I only perform half as well as I usually do, and I end up with a silver medal, I’m definitely not going to be happy. My aim is to be the very best,” he states confidently.
In Sochi, he is hopeful of sharing yet another podium with his brother, an achievement that would put a broad smile on their father’s face. “My dream is to head back to Latvia with two medal winners,” confirms Dukurs Senior.