SIGULDA, Latvia (AP) — Francesco Friedrich of Germany was undefeated in 2021. He won’t repeat the feat in 2022.
Friedrich’s 21-race World Cup winning streak was snapped Saturday, after his worst finish in more than four years. Rostislav Gaitiukevich of Russia was the surprise winner of a two-man race, teaming with Mikhail Mordasov to prevail in 1 minute, 39.23 seconds.
The British sled of Brad Hall and Greg Cackett was second in 1:39.33, while Benjamin Maier and Markus Sammer of Austria got third in 1:39.40.
Friedrich couldn’t overcome trouble at the top of the track in both runs, and he and brakeman Alexander Schuller finished 12th in 1:39.84. It matched Friedrich’s worst finish in any World Cup race since Nov. 24, 2017, when he was 12th in a two-man race at Whistler, Canada.
And with the Olympics looming next month, the rest of the bobsled circuit now knows that Friedrich — who still will be the gold-medal favorite in two- and four-man at the Beijing Games — can be beaten.
Counting two- and four-man competitions, Friedrich competed in 20 international races in 2021 and won 20 gold medals, 18 of them in World Cups and the other two at the world championships. He had medaled in each of his last 27 World Cup races, not finishing worse than second before Saturday since a fifth-place showing in a four-man race at St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Feb. 2, 2020.
Hunter Church and Kris Horn were 16th for the U.S., while Codie Bascue and Carlo Valdes finished 19th.
Christine de Bruin of Canada was the fastest in both heats and was the easy winner of a women’s monobob race on Saturday.
Her time for two runs was 1:48.12. Breanna Walker of Australia was second in 1:48.68, and Nadezhda Sergeeva of Russia was third in 1:48.70.
There were no U.S. sleds in the race.
The weekend in Latvia concludes with a women’s race and another two-man race on Sunday. There are no four-man races this weekend.
More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports