WINTERBERG, Germany (AP) — Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis drove to a World Cup bobsled win on her home track on Sunday, edging Elana Meyers of the United States by the slimmest of margins.
Kiriasis and brakeman Franziska Fritz finished two runs in 1 minute, 55.41 seconds – a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Meyers and Lolo Jones, who likely bolstered her Olympic hopes by helping give USA-1 a huge push in the second heat.
Anja Schneiderheinze and Stephanie Schneider were third for Germany, 0.07 seconds back.
Meyers has now finished no worse than second in all five races this season, though this one wasn’t easy. She and Jones had a bit of trouble at the start of the first run, then tied for the fastest start in the field to begin their second trip down the track.
“We like to keep everybody on the edge of their seats,” Meyers said after extending her World Cup standings lead to 68 points over Canada’s Kaillie Humphries, who placed fifth. “We had a little slip-up in the beginning of the first run. I didn’t run far enough and she followed me, so it caused us to drop some time, but we came back in the second one.”
Kiriasis’ victory came one day after she celebrated her 39th birthday. It was the first medal of the season for the German who’s widely considered the best women’s driver ever, and came in what’s widely expected to be her final year in a sled. Kiriasis was emotional crossing the finish line, raising one of her index fingers skyward, then took a long swig of a celebratory beer while standing atop the medal stand.
For the U.S., Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans led after the first run but finished fourth. Jazmine Fenlator and Lauryn Williams were ninth, despite solid start times of 5.62 and 5.59 seconds.
Evans is expected to be a lock for one of the three push-athlete jobs on the U.S. women’s team that will compete in the Sochi Olympics next month, while Jones and Williams – both of whom have competed in multiple Olympics as track stars – are in a group competing for the other two spots.
Later Sunday, Germany swept a four-man race, dominating once again on home ice. Maximilian Arndt won his second gold medal in as many days, prevailing in 1:50.09 to extend his lead in the World Cup four-man standings. Francesco Friedrich drove to silver in 1:50.32 and Thomas Florschuetz took the bronze in 1:50.49.
Olympic champion Steven Holcomb and his team of Steve Langton, Curtis Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt finished seventh for the U.S., wrapping up a tough, crash-filled week in Winterberg for the Americans. Also for the U.S., the team of Cory Butner, Adam Clark, Andreas Drbal and Chris Langton placed 13th, while pilot Nick Cunningham and push athletes Dallas Robinson, Johnny Quinn and Abe Morlu were 16th.
The World Cup bobsled tour continues next weekend at St. Moritz, the next-to-last weekend of competition before the Americans will decide which athletes will be on the team for next month’s Sochi Olympics.