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It was not the first time family members had faced off in Olympic competition. However, in the men’s bobsleigh in 1994, two brothers represented the same country, but in different teams, and in the same race.
In one of the Swiss two-man teams was brakeman Donat Acklin. He was a reigning Olympic champion, having taken the gold two years earlier alongside driver Gustav Weder. At 28 years old, Donat was in the prime of his career. His younger brother Guido was also a brakeman. In Lillehammer, he partnered Rene Götschi, setting the stage for an intriguing subplot.
The Canadian, American and German teams had all been expected to challenge, but it was the two Swiss crews who topped the leaderboard after the first run. After three runs, the Acklins were going toe-to-toe. Weder and Donat were quickest in the first run, but Guido’s team was fastest in the second and took the overall lead at the halfway stage. With one run to go, the brothers were locked together in the race for gold, with Götschi and Acklin ahead by just 0.03 secs from Weder and Acklin.
Acklin and Weder went first in the last run, setting a time of 52.85 secs. When Götschi and Acklin completed their final run there was barely a breath between them with a couple of corners left. However, when they crossed the line, they learned they had missed out on gold by just 0.05 secs.
Weder and Donat Acklin later added silver medals in the four-man event.