RIGA - Following the Christmas break, winter sports were back on the agenda over the weekend and Martins Dukurs was continuing from where he left off, showing that currently, he truly is one of the world’s most dominant athletes.
FIBT Skeleton World Cup, Round 4, Altenburg, Germany
In a sport in which a mere hundredth of a second can often divide more than five competitors, Latvian Martins Dukurs is right now in a class of his own, dominating the sport of skeleton not unlike Jamaica’s Usain Bolt dominates the 100m and 200m.
In the fourth round of the World Cup that took in place in Germany over the weekend, the 27-year-old was once more in blistering form, blitzing the field for the fourth consecutive time this season to complete two runs in a total time of one minute and 54.15 seconds, more than a full second clear of older brother Tomass, who came home second, 1.07 seconds in arrears.
To give you an idea of the current dominance that Dukurs holds, positions two through five were decided by less than a second.
Competing at the World Cup level for the first time this season in the women’s draw was Lelda Priedulena. Sliding in just one run, the 19-year-old came home 22nd overall, 2.67 seconds behind winner Anja Huber of Germany.
FIBT Bob World Cup, Round 4, Altenburg, Germany
In the 2-man bobsled Latvia had three teams competing, but it was another disappointing start to the weekend for the man who had begun the season as Latvia’s number one pilot, Edgars Maskalans. Piloting Latvia 2, Maskalans had a disastrous first run, setting just the 22nd quickest time down the 1.41 km track, seeing the 29-year-old fail to qualify for a second run.
Like he has all season, Oskars Melbardis was leading the Latvian charge by finishing sixth in Latvia 1 – 0.6 seconds behind champions Germany 1 – whilst youngster Ugis Zalims would record his best finish of the season as pilot of Latvia 3 with a 10th placing.
A day later in the 4-man bobsled Maskalans was making up for the poor run a day earlier, finishing an excruciating 0.01 of a second off the podium with Germany 1, instead taking out third spot. Germany 2 was easily the quickest team, finishing 0.66 seconds clear of the second-placed Russia 1 team.
Melbardis would steer Latvia 2 to seventh position, finishing in the exact same time as Netherlands 1.
The skeleton and bobsled world cup remains in Germany, moving on to Konigssee this weekend.
Viessmann Luge World Cup, Round 4, Konigssee, Germany
Having skipped the third round of the World Cup in Calgary, Canada, Latvian lugers were back competing as the World Cup moved back to Europe. Ivars Kivlenieks was the best finishing Latvian in the men’s race, sneaking into 10th spot, 0.997 of a second behind the winner, Felix Loch of Germany. The second Latvian male competing, Kristaps Maurins, finished 31st out of 32 riders.
In the doubles Latvia’s best pairing of Juris and Andris Sics were again a notable absence, having also missed the previous two rounds. Instead, it was Andrejs Berze and Uldis Logins finishing the best of the Latvians in 11th spot, 2.135 seconds behind Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arit of Germany. Latvia’s second pairing of Oskars Gudramovics and Peteris Kalnins would fail to finish.
Eliza Tiruma would be the only Latvian female competing over the weekend, finishing 15th in the women’s race, ending the day 2.020 seconds behind Tatjana Hufner of Germany, who was continuing her recent domination of the sport.
Concluding the weekend was the team relay event. It would bring the most joy from the weekend for the Latvians who finished seventh, 1.401 seconds behind surprise winners Italy.
This weekend racing moves cross country to Oberhof.
FIS Tour de Ski 2011/2012
This season only Estonian skiers competed in the winter’s premier cross-country skiing event. In the absence of an Olympics or a World Championship, the grueling event which sees skiers compete in nine races in 11 days across five venues in two countries becomes the biggest event on the cross country skiing calendar.
When the race finished on Jan. 8 in Val di Fiemme, Italy, only two Estonians – Aivar Rehemaa and Algo Karp – would accomplish the feat of still being in the race. Rehemaa finished 42nd overall and Karp 54th – both well down on the winning time of four hours, 33 minutes and 17.2 seconds, achieved by Dario Cologna of Switzerland.
E.ON IBU Biathlon World Cup, Round 4, Oberhof, Germany
The fourth round of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup began with the women’s 4x6 km relay in which Estonia was competing. However, it was not to be happy race for the Estonians who found themselves lapped.
The news was not much better in the men’s 4.75km relay with Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania all being overlapped.
In the women’s 7.5 km sprint the news was much better with Lithuania’s Diana Rasimoviciute claiming the Baltic’s first top-ten finish of the year, missing just one target on her way to finishing ninth. No other Baltic skiers would finish within the top 50.
In the men’s 10 km sprint, Estonia’s Indreks Tobreluts and Roland Lessing would both miss two targets on their way to finishing, in 39th and 48th place, respectively.
Rasimoviciute was the only woman to qualify for the women’s 12.5 km mass start race, missing six targets to finish 29th out of 30 skiers.
No Baltic skiers would qualify for the men’s mass start event.
This week racing is taking place in Nove Mesto, Slovakia.