CROWN PRINCE: Martins Dukurs delivers at Konigssee bringing home the world championship title in the skeleton.
Riga - Martins Dukurs has added another gem to his already sparkling crown, completing a perfect season by winning the Skeleton World Championship in Konigssee, Germany. Leading a Latvian team to the World Championships that also included older brother Tomass, along with two bobsleigh squads that competed in both the two men and four men events, Martins was the undisputed star of the Latvian effort, becoming the first Latvian to be crowned as a skeleton world champion.
Martins entered the final major event of the 2010/2011 season with the European Cup and World Cup titles to his name, but his season would only be judged by his success in Konigssee. Martins had found himself in a similar position last year where he won the World and European cups before arriving at Vancouver for the Olympics, only to be pipped by Canadian favorite, Jon Montgomery. This year he was not prepared to experience the same disappointment, eclipsing the field to comfortably win the event.
Unlike the World and European Cups, the World Championship is decided over four runs, rather than two, with each rider’s four times added together to give them their final time. The first two runs were held on Thursday with the final two taking place the following morning.
Martins’ first run was the slowest of his four, completing the 1.25km track in 51.18 seconds. At the end of the run Germany’s Michi Halilovic was within striking distance with a time of 51.29 seconds. However, over the course of the next three runs, Halilovic would fade while Dukurs would only get stronger, going under 51 seconds on all of his remaining runs. Over the course of the two days no one else would break the 51 second mark.
His second run was also good enough to earn him a new track record with a time of 50.67 seconds, eclipsing almost seven hundredths of a second off the record set by Halilovic earlier in the week.
Dukurs’ total time came to 3:23.70, with Russian Alexander Tretiakov finishing in second spot, 1.74 seconds behind the Latvian. Ending the championships in third was German Frank Rommel, 1.98 seconds behind Dukurs. Halilovic ended in fifth position.
Older brother Tomass also produced a strong result to finish in the top ten. Sitting in eighth position following his first two runs, he slipped back to tenth on his third run. He would not be able to recover completely on his final run, having to settle for a final position of ninth with a total time of 3:27.22, 3.52 seconds slower than his brother.
Talking to Latvian daily Diena, Martins attributed his win to the errors being made by the Germans. “They fought each other for places on the podium, but did not withstand the pressure and, therefore, mistakes were made.”
Earlier in the week Edgars Maskalans had piloted Latvia 1 and Oskars Melbardis had piloted Latvia 2 in the two-man bobsleigh. Neither was able to challenge for top positions with Melbardis finishing 13th with a total time of 3:22.54, 1.82 seconds behind winner Alexander Zubkov of Russia. Maskalans finished further back in 16th position with a total time of 3:23.11, 2.39 seconds behind Zubkov.
Both were back piloting the four man equivalent of their respective bobsleighs in the final event of the world championships, an event that both fared better in. Maskalans was able to pilot Latvia 1 into ninth position with a total time of 3:18.38, 1.80 seconds behind winning pilot Manuel Machata of Germany. Melbardis piloted Latvia 2 to 15th position with a total time of 3:19.15, 2.57 seconds behind Machata.