Sochi’s Sanki Sliding Centre has been given a glimpse of what it can expect to see during next year’s Olympic Winter Games, with bobsleigh and skeleton stars taking to the track from 15-17 February for the final event of the 2012/13 FIBT World Cup season.
The Olympic venue – which is the first international bobsleigh and skeleton track in Russia – saw two-time world skeleton champion Martins Dukurs clinch his fourth successive World Cup title, after the Latvian won the final race of the season ahead of 2013 world champion Alexander Tretyakov, of Russia. Germany’s Frank Rommel finished third.
American Noelle Pikus-Pace finished ahead of her compatriot Katie Uhlaender to win the women’s skeleton race, with Germany’s Olympic bronze medallist Anja Huber finishing third. Huber’s compatriot Marion Thees took fourth place to secure the 2012/13 World Cup title.
The two-man bobsleigh race was dominated by Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter, who took victory ahead of Germany’s Thomas Florschütz and Andreas Bredau, with Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens finishing third.
Russia’s Alexander Zubkov and Dmitry Trunenkov shared fourth place with the bob of Canada’s Lyndon Rush to become the overall World Cup champions.
Zubkov also took the four-man World Cup title after finishing third in the Sochi race, with Oskars Melbardis guiding his Latvian team to its first World Cup victory in a time of 1:52.29 minutes – 0.02 seconds ahead of Thomas Florschuetz’s German team.
In the women’s bobsleigh race, Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois finished third to win the overall World Cup title, with Sandra Kiriasis and Franziska Bertels, of Germany, topping the podium in Sochi and Elana Meyers and Aja Evans, of USA, finishing second.
The Olympic track – which winds its way for 1,814m across the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge, near the village of Krasnaya Polyana – won praise from many of the World Cup competitors, who are already looking forward to returning to the venue for next year’s Winter Games.
“It’s a really fun track, I really enjoyed it,” said Great Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold, who finished fourth overall in the 2012/13 Skeleton World Cup. “I am really impressed – the structure of the track is done really-really well. It’s also being covered, which is important for us to know that it’ll be dry and warm. I think the track is fantastic. I can’t wait until the Olympic Winter Games.”
“I really like the track, it’s a very technical, tricky track,” added Canadian skeleton athlete John Fairbairn. “I think it is going to make a really great race in a year. The venue is beautiful, it’s good for the athletes; there is an awesome warm-up area at the top.”
Race winner Valois echoed Yarnold’s and Fairbairn’s thoughts as she said: “I am excited to come back here next year.”