Latvian sports roundup: bobsleigh, luge and biathlon

It was once again a historic week for Latvian women's and men's winter sports athletes in bobsleigh and biathlon, while luge athletes won medals in the singles, doubles and team categories.

Second 2-man bobsleigh World Championships medal

The Latvian 2-man bobsleigh team composed of pilot Oskars Ķibermanis and Matīss Miknis finished in third place with a time of 3:42.23 minutes, sandwiched between two German teams on either side at the World Championships stage in Altenberg, according to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation on February 23.

It was another historic moment for Latvian bobsleigh, as it was only the second time Latvia has received a 2-man bobsleigh World Championships medal as an independent country (last time was in 2015 when Oskars Melbārdis and Daumants Dreiškens won silver in Winterberg). However for the top German team piloted by Francesco Friedrich it was his sixth successive win at the World Championships in the 2-man bobsleigh.

The Latvian bronze medalists had a great start of 5.15 seconds on the final run, but despite not making any big mistakes, they ended up 1.79 seconds behind the winning team. Latvia's next 2-man bobsleigh team of Oskars Melbārdis and Intars Dambis finished in 12th place with a total run time of 3:43.30 minutes, while Ralfs Bērziņš and Dāvis Spriņģis finished 17th with a time of 3:44.08 minutes.

Gold, two silvers and bronze at luge World Cup

Latvian luge athletes Elīza Cauce, Kristers Aparjods and doubles team of Oskars Gudramovičs and Pēteris Kalniņš finished third at the Viessmann Team-Relay-World Cup stage in Winterberg with a total time of 2:37.447 minutes, while Gudramovičs/Kalniņš placed second in the doubles competition with a time of 1:34.230 minutes, and in the singles Cauce places first with 1:27.481 minutes and Aparjods also placed second with 1:52.464 minutes according to the International Luge Federation (FIL) on February 23.

The Russian team were the overall winners of the team relay, finishing 0.599 seconds ahead of the Latvian team, while second place Italy managed to retain their overall leader position in the rankings. Latvia is third in the overall rankings. The Russian team of Aleksandr Denisev and Vladislav Antonov also placed first in the men's doubles, beating the Latvian pair by 0.608 seconds. Brothers Juris and Andris Šics placed ninth in the men's doubles.

Some of the top teams didn't participate in the competition due to the unsafe weather conditions, with the US and Austrian teams refusing to participate as a whole, and many others joining individually. In reaction the FIL lowered the starting heights for the singles athletes. The Šics brothers remain third in the overall rankings for men's doubles, while Gudramovičs/Kalniņš are in fifth and Latvians Kristens Putins and Imants Marcinkēvičs are in 14th place.

 

 

Historic place in biathlon World Championships

Latvian biathlon athlete Baiba Bendika placed 18th at the International Biathlon Union World Championships in the 12.5 kilometer mass start competition at Antholz-Anterselva with a time 2:10.9 minutes behind first place winner with a time of 39:14.0 minutes Marte Olsbu Roeiseland from Norway, according to organizers on February 23.

It was not only Bendika's career record (last year she placed  27th), but the highest any Latvian women's biathlon athlete has ever placed in the World Championships. The Latvian athlete was not very precise at the shooting range and earned an additional penalty loop, but nonetheless had a successful competition. On February 14 she placed 12th in the 7.5 kilometer sprint, and February 16 she finished 9th in the 10 kilometer pursuit competition, which was her best result at the World Championships.

Athletes were also fighting for World Cup points at the World Championships, and Bendika is currently 32nd in the overall rankings. For the mass start distances Bendika shares 36th place in the overall rankings.

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