Friedrich wins 4th Olympic bobsleigh gold as Germans dominate

Francesco Friedrich, Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller of Germany start the 3-4 series at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing's Yanqing District.  (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Francesco Friedrich, Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller of Germany start the 3-4 series at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing’s Yanqing District. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)


Double gold medal in Pyeongchang, double gold medal in Beijing.

Francesco Friedrich once again won everything the Olympics had to offer.

The world’s top bobsledder finished an Olympics dominating the world’s sliding superpower, winning the four-man race at the Beijing Games on Sunday. He won the two- and four-man events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, then repeated the feat in Beijing – the first double-double in Olympic bobsleigh history.

Friedrich and his team of Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller finished their four races in 3 minutes, 54.30 seconds. Germany also took second place, with Johannes Lochner – the first run leader – and his team of Florian Bauer, Christopher Weber and Christian Rasp crossing the line in 3:54.67.

“A great feeling,” Friedrich said.

The bronze medal went to Canada, with driver Justin Kripps and his team of Ryan Sommer, Cam Stones and Benjamin Coakwell finishing in 3:55.09. It was Kripps’ second Olympic medal, after tying Friedrich for gold in the two-man at the Pyeongchang Games.

“Amazing,” Kripps said. “We couldn’t be happier.”

Going back to the Pyeongchang Olympics, Friedrich has now won 60 of his last 73 international races – meaning the Olympics, World Cups and World Championships – and has won a medal in 69 d ‘between them. He is a seven-time reigning two-man world champion, four-time reigning four-man world champion, five-time two-man world champion and four-time four-man world champion.

And now he is only the second driver to win four Olympic gold medals, joining only fellow German Andre Lange at that club. When Lange was in his prime, he was the best driver in the world by consensus.

That torch has unquestionably passed to Friedrich now.

“We did everything to get back here,” Friedrich said. “We’ve done an incredible job these four years…without all the guys it’s not possible to achieve such a moment.”

Kripps thwarted what could have been Germany’s second Olympics bobsled sweep – after no nation, before the Beijing Games, had ever won all three medals in a bobsled race until the Germany do so in the two-man race that ended last week. Christoph Hafer was fourth for the Germans, just 0.06 seconds behind Kripps.

Even without another 1-2-3 sweep, the final numbers were still dominant. The Germans beat the world by themselves.

Bobsleigh: Germany won three golds and seven medals, while the rest of the world picked up one gold — Kaillie Humphries’ monobob victory for the United States — and a total of five medals.

Skeleton: Germany won both gold medals and three medals overall; the rest of the world combined for no gold and three medals.

Luge: Germany won all four gold medals and six medals overall; the rest of the world combined for no gold and six medals.

The final figures: nine gold medals and 16 medals for Germany, one gold medal and 14 medals for all the others.

“It’s like we’re drunk, but we’re not,” said women’s bobsleigh gold medalist Laura Nolte. “We are just drunk with happiness.”

Even without medals, Hunter Church was too.

The American closed his first Olympics by finishing 10th in the four-man event, his favorite event. He and his team of Josh Williamson, Kris Horn and Charlie Volker clocked a final time of 3:57.06, moving from 13th to 11th after the third run and then one more place in the final.

“These guys were amazing,” Church said. “It’s really good to have said, ‘Hey, we’re coming back and getting into the top 10,’ and being able to achieve that goal means a lot.”

The United States believes it has some momentum heading into a new Olympic cycle. And it’s possible Church could keep his sled together, a rarity for Americans in recent years.

“The US men’s program is going to be in a very different position four years from now, I have a feeling,” Church said. “That’s exciting.”

Frank DelDuca, who also completed his first Olympics as a pilot, tied for 13th in 3:57.65 with a team of Carlo Valdes, Jimmy Reed and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor.

It was DelDuca’s 22nd and final international race of the season. He started on the lower level North American Cup circuit, racing 16 times between Nov. 7 and Dec. 20 and winning medals in every race – seven gold, seven silver, two bronze.

This earned him promotion to the World Cup squad after the Christmas break, and it was his final stepping stone to the Olympic team.

“We dug deep and gave it everything we had,” DelDuca said.

It was the last races for Valdes and Reed, who are both retiring.

“After eight years, I put everything I had into this sport,” Reed said. “Lots of ups, lots of downs. It was a great last run to end my career.”


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Naomi C. Amerson