Five things to know about the IBSF bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships 2021

One year out from Beijing 2022, can anyone catch Kaillie Humphries? Check out the top storylines and schedule for the Altenberg event from 5-14 February in the last major competition before the Winter Olympics

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

The IBSF bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships 2021 were switched to Altenberg, Germany after original hosts Lake Placid were ruled out due to coronavirus.

Taking place a year before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, there are some fascinating storylines in the making for the competition, which takes place from Friday 5 to Sunday 14 February 2021.

Can Olympic bobsleigh gold medallist Kaillie Humphries and her partner Lolo Jones build upon their recent World Cup win in the two-woman sled?

Who will be the first women’s Monobob world champion ever?

Can anyone challenge the dominance of skeleton Superman Martins Dukurs and bobsleigh supremo Francesco Friedrich?

We take a look at the answers to those questions in our event preview, below.

1 - The amazing journey of Kaillie Humphries and Lolo Jones

The USA only started competing in the second half of this season’s World Cup due to coronavirus protocols, but the depth of their bobsleigh talent was quickly apparent.

Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries and former indoor hurdles world champion runner Lolo Jones edged out compatriots Elana Meyers Taylor and Lake Kwaza to win the Innsbruck World Cup two-women event in January.

It was Humphries’ 27th career World Cup win and an eighth medal for Jones in 12 starts, but their amazing journeys to this point couldn’t be any more contrasting.

Humphries won her Olympic gold medals at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 with the Canadian Maple Leaf on her race suit. The 35-year-old became the first woman to defend her bobsleigh Olympic title, and added Olympic bronze to her medal cabinet at PyeongChang 2018, before switching allegiances to the USA a year later.

Jones’ competed for USA in athletics at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games before pivoting to Winter sports and bobsleigh for PyeongChang 2018.

The 38-year-old was planning on competing at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics in the 110m hurdles, until the coronavirus pandemic meant the cancellation of her athletics season.

Not wanting to waste three years of getting herself into peak physical condition, she accepted Humphries’ request to return to the ice, and the rest is history. A world championships gold medal would make for a suitably excellent next chapter in their amazing sporting stories.

2 - The race to become Monobob’s first world champion

Monobob is a women’s only event at these world championships, making its debut in Altenberg, before its first Olympic appearance at Beijing 2022.

While many Winter events are dominated by a handful of veteran nations, the same cannot be said for Monobob.

This World Cup season has seen six different winners from nine races, with medallists from four different continents.

The favourite will surely be Kaillie Humphries, who is one of three competitors to have won two events on the tour.

The others are fellow American Nicole Vogt and Breeana Walker from Australia.

Also keep an eye out for former Jamaican sprinter Carrie Russell, who won gold and silver medals at Park City this year, while Brazil’s Marina Silva Tuono has been a regular on the podium.

3 - Can anyone challenge Martins Dukurs?

They don’t call Martins Dukurs ‘Superman’ for no reason.

The Latvian is a six-time skeleton world champion, and knows exactly what it takes to win on this stage.

Despite being 36-years-old, he hasn’t lost any of his pace, winning four events this season already.

Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov, so often Dukurs’ major rival over the years, has also made his presence felt in 2021 with two victories.

Reigning Olympic champion Sungbin Yun has started to show a return to his best form after 11 months away from competition too.

The Korean ‘Iron Man’ won bronze in his first race back, before sealing silver a week later.

Finally, there is Germany‘s Alexander Gassner, who followed up his maiden World Cup win at St. Moritz in January with victory in Konigssee a week later.

4 - Francesco Friedrich odds on for world titles 12 and 13

There aren’t too many athletes who dominate their sport quite like Germany’s 11-time world champion Francesco Friedrich.

The double Olympic champion has once again been a man on a mission this season, with 10 victories from 11 races in the two-man sled and four wins out of four in the four-man.

It would take something quite mesmeric to topple the 30-year-old.

That said, he will have one eye on compatriot Johannes Lochner, who managed to win the first Innsbruck World Cup two-man event in 2020-21.

Lochner is a 2019 mixed team world champion and double world silver medallist.

5 - The IBSF World Championships 2021 schedule

Here's what's planned for the world champs in Altenberg, Germany, where bobsleigh competition takes place from 5th to 14th February 2021, with skeleton events from 11-13 February (All times CET).

Bobsleigh

5 February

10:30 - Two-women run 1 & 2

6 February

10:00 - Two-men run 1 & 2

14:30 - Two-women run 3 & 4

7 February

14:30 - Two-men run 3 & 4

13 February

11:30 - Women’s Monobob run 1 & 2

15:45 - Four men run 1 & 2

14 February

11:30 - Women’s Monobob run 3 & 4

15:45 - Four men run 3 & 4

Skeleton

11 February

09:00 - Women run 1 & 2

13:00 - Men run 1 & 2

12 February

09:00 - Women run 3 & 4

13:00 - Men run 3 & 4

13 February

15:00 - Mixed team