World Cup Women’s Bobsled, November 9 at Lake Placid

The BMW IBSF World Cup tour may have moved on from Lake Placid to Park City — and indeed from Park City to Whistler, B.C., by the time you see this — but I still have photos from Lake Placid that I want off my disk drive, so you get to see the women’s bobsled race today. Like the other races, the women’s bobsled was the first event of the World Cup calendar this year, which is compressed and shifted earlier due to the Winter Olympics being held in Korea in February (assuming Trump doesn’t start a war with North Korea by then). The World Cup results in each discipline will determine the number of quota slots each national team earns, and for most teams will also determine the ranking of the individual athletes. In bobsled, World Cup points are assigned to the driver, and teams (especially the deep teams like Germany, Canada, and the U.S.) will frequently switch out brakemen (pushers) and sleds between events, looking for the best performing combinations. However, the same athletes must race both heats of an individual event in the same sled. This photo gallery includes 112 photos showing both heats: photos from the first run were taken at the start, and photos from the second run were taken at the finish. As with skeleton, only the top 20 competitors in the first heat make the flip to the second, but the competitive field in women’s bobsled is quite small (the largest teams are limited to three sleds in the World Cup) so all finishers made the cut. (One sled, the sole Austrian entry, crashed and did not reach the finish line, so they were not able to make a second run.)

Lining up the bobsled scabbards for heat 1

For race-time transportation and weighing, the bobsled runners are protected with these “scabbards”, which are lined up in the finish area in the order that the competitors will come down the track. Away from the competition, the runners are dismounted entirely to protect them; a driver will often have one preferred set of runners on which her sled performs best, although of course the team will also carry backups in case of accidents (such as overrunning the runout track, which happened to one of the men’s teams during training in Park City the week after this event).

Walking up the hill from the finish area to the start, I was passed by one of the Russian women going downhill on her warm-up. Half a minute or so later, she turned around and started back up the hill.


Other athletes warming up for heat 1 outside the start area


First forerunner

The bobsled races use three forerunners: two on skeleton sleds, one in each starting groove, followed by a third in a bobsled.

Second forerunner

First forerunner, again

Second forerunner, again

Belgian team members sharing a laugh

Third forerunner

IBSF TV barker for international broadcast

Bobsled used by the third forerunner

Now we get into the actual competitors’ first runs. I stayed in the start area for the entire first run this time, so you’ll see all the competitors from the beginning of heat 1 and then the finishes from heat 2.

Stephanie Schneider/Lisa Marie Buckwitz (GER)
4th in first run


Christine de Bruin/Cynthia Appiah (CAN)
6th in first run


Christine de Bruin/Cynthia Appiah (CAN)


Andreea Grecu/Beatrice Puiu (ROU)
18th in first run


Andreea Grecu/Beatrice Puiu (ROU)


Andreea Grecu/Beatrice Puiu (ROU)


Kaillie Humphries/Melissa Lotholz (CAN)
won first run


Kaillie Humphries/Melissa Lotholz (CAN)


Kaillie Humphries/Melissa Lotholz (CAN)


Testing the ice temperature


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)
5th in first run


German coaches watching their athletes’ starts


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)


Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)
11th in first run

Several of the athletes have a ritual of making a jump in the air right before lining up at the block to start.

Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)


Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)


Nadezhda Sergeeva/Yulia Shokshueva (RUS)
9th in first run


Nadezhda Sergeeva/Yulia Shokshueva (RUS)


Nadezhda Sergeeva/Yulia Shokshueva (RUS)


Alysia Rissling/Kristen Bujnowski (CAN)
6th in first run


Alysia Rissling/Kristen Bujnowski (CAN)

There are two different starts used: sometimes both athletes start from the blocks, with the brakewoman already having started the sled moving before the driver gets to her push handle, and sometimes the driver starts with her hands on the push handle so both athletes start pushing the sled simultaneously. I’ve never heard an explanation for this.

Alysia Rissling/Kristen Bujnowski (CAN)


Alysia Rissling/Kristen Bujnowski (CAN)


Brittany Reinbolt/Briauna Jones (USA)
10th in first run


Brittany Reinbolt/Briauna Jones (USA)


Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauren Gibbs (USA)
2nd in first run


Sponsor logos on US bobsled


Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauren Gibbs (USA)


Elfje Willemsen/Sara Aerts (BEL)
12th in first run

The Belgian team was mentioned in the commentary as one of the relatively underfunded teams that doesn’t usually come to North America for competitions because of the expense. I have a suspicion that the woman with the long blonde hair (in the blue team jacket) at right in the photo above may actually be one of the athletes, helping out her teammates at the start, and not just a staffer. (If anyone knows for certain, comments are open!)

Elfje Willemsen/Sara Aerts (BEL)


Elfje Willemsen/Sara Aerts (BEL)


Christina Hengster/Valerie Kleiser (AUT)
did not finish (crashed, did not maintain enough momentum to pass the finish line)


Christina Hengster/Valerie Kleiser (AUT)


Jamie Greubel Poser/Aja Evans (USA)
3rd in first run


Jamie Greubel Poser/Aja Evans (USA)


Jamie Greubel Poser/Aja Evans (USA)


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruysen (BEL)
16th in first run


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruysen (BEL)


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruysen (BEL)


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruysen (BEL)


Mica McNeill/Mica Moore (GBR)
8th in first run

This, if I recall correctly, was the British team that had to raise their own funding to make the World Cup team this season.

Mica McNeill/Mica Moore (GBR)


Mica McNeill/Mica Moore (GBR)


Maria Oshigiri/Arisa Kimishima (JPN)
17th in first run


Maria Oshigiri/Arisa Kimishima (JPN)


Maria Adela Constantin/Florentina Iusco (ROU)
14th in first run


Maria Adela Constantin/Florentina Iusco (ROU)


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)
15th in first run


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


German team videographer


Anna Koehler/Franziska Fritz-Glahn (GER)
13th in first run


Anna Koehler/Franziska Fritz-Glahn (GER)


Konomi Asazu/Natsumi Kawasaki (JPN)
19th in first run


Konomi Asazu/Natsumi Kawasaki (JPN)

All the women having completed heat 1, we move back down to the finish to see heat 2 and the final results. (At World Championships, four heats are run and the results are determined by combined time. At other IBSF competitions, two heats are the norm — although they do sometimes run multiple races in the same discipline at one event, as happened at at this event when Friday’s four-man bobsled race was canceled and replaced with a second two-man race due to ice conditions.)

At the beginning of the second run, the scabbards are lined up again, but they must be re-ordered to reflect the new start order for heat 2.


As the last-place finishers in heat 1, Konomi Asazu and Natsumi Kawasaki (JPN) were the first women down the track in heat 2.


Konomi Asazu/Natsumi Kawasaki (JPN)
18th place in run 2
18th place overall


Andreea Grecu/Beatrice Puiu (ROU)
17th in run 2
17th overall


Andreea Grecu/Beatrice Puiu (ROU)


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruyssen (BEL)
13th in second run
15th overall


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruyssen (BEL)


Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruyssen (BEL)

Not sure what that necklace is that she was showing for the camera….

Anna Vannieuwenhuyse/Sophie Vercruyssen (BEL)


Leader’s box and finish area


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)
16th in second run
15th overall


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


Sabina Hafner/Eveline Rebsamen (SUI)


Maria Adela Constantin/Florentina Iusco (ROU)
12th in second run
14th overall


Maria Adela Constantin/Florentina Iusco (ROU)


Anna Koehler/Franziska Fritz-Glahn (GER)
11th in second run
12th overall


Anna Koehler/Franziska Fritz-Glahn (GER)


Elfje Willemsen/Sara Aerts (BEL)
13th in second run
13th overall


Elfje Willemsen/Sara Aerts (BEL)


Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)
10th in second run
10th overall


Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)


Aleksandra Rodionova/Anastasia Kohcherzhova (RUS)


Brittany Reinbolt/Briauna Jones (USA)
5th in second run
9th overall


Brittany Reinbolt/Briauna Jones (USA)


Nadezhda Sergeeva/Yulia Shokshueva (RUS)
15th in second run
11th overall


Mica McNeill/Mica Moore (GBR)
8th in second run
8th overall


Mica McNeill/Mica Moore (GBR)


Alysia Rissling/Kristen Bujnowski (CAN)
9th in second run
7th overall


Rissling/Bojnowski congratulate teammates de Bruin/Appiah


Christine de Bruin/Cynthia Appiah (CAN)
5th in second run
6th overall


Christine de Bruin/Cynthia Appiah (CAN)


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)
7th in second run
5th overall


Mariama Jamanka/Erline Nolte (GER)


Stephanie Schneider/Lisa Marie Buckwitz (GER)
3rd in second run
3rd overall


Stephanie Schneider/Lisa Marie Buckwitz (GER)


Jamie Greubel Poser/Aja Evans (USA)
4th in second run
4th overall


Stephanie Schneider/Lisa Marie Buckwitz (GER)


Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauren Gibbs (USA)
won second run
2nd overall


Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauren Gibbs (USA)


Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauren Gibbs (USA)


Kaillie Humphries/Melissa Lotholz (CAN)
2nd in second run
overall winner

That’s it for the women’s bobsled. I stuck around in the cold and darkening evening to watch the first men’s bobsled race of the season, and you’ll see a small number of photos from that coming up next.

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