Sigulda returns to the bobsleigh big time

The international bobsleigh (or bobsled) and skeleton season kicks off in Sigulda, Latvia December 7 with the sports' elite competitors descending on the town for the first round of the World Cup.

The event marks a major landmark in the revival of the Sigulda track's fortunes. The men’s bobsleigh hasn’t raced a World Cup on the Latvian course since February 2004, and the women’s skeleton, men’s skeleton and women’s bobsleigh last raced a World Cup event in Sigulda in December 2005.

The 2018-2019 season opening World Cup will feature four of the five disciplines. Women’s skeleton, men’s skeleton and women’s bobsled will race once this week. Two-man bobsled teams will race twice, while four-man races will be held in Winterberg, Germany next week.  

Although Latvian bobsledders have shown good times during training runs, trainer Sandis Prūsis is not satisfied with the team's performance so far, saying that too many mistakes were made. 

A new Olympic cycle has begun, and many teams, including Latvia's, are welcoming new faces to replace the previous generation of competitors.

"There's plenty of work to do and there's a lot of confusion," said Prusis.

Meanwhile, skeletonists will start this year with completely new equipment. "Both the technique and the sleds are new at the moment, nothing is from last year," said legendary trainer Dainis Dukurs, explaining that the old sled is still available as a backup option.

His sons are among the few competitors to have raced last time the World Cup came to Sigulda. The local heroes in the Men’s Skeleton took part in 2005 with Tomass Dukurs finishing 12th twelfth and younger brother Martins - now a multiple world champion - finishing 20th. 

On Friday, women's doubles will start, while Saturday will bring the men's skeleton and first bobsled race, with women's skeleton and second-round bobsled on Sunday.

Full previews and some stunning point-of-view footage (below) are available from the website of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF).

Several of the races will be broadcast on the LTV7 television channel in Latvia and will be available on the Re:Play online service.

The event is doubly important for Sigulda, acting as a perfect showcase for its ambition to host the Olympic sliding competitions as part of a hosting bid from the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

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