YoFrancesco Friedrich expected another home game. Originally, the World Bobsleigh Championships should be held at Lake Placid. However, due to the pandemic, all races will be held in Europe this winter. So the world record champion from Pirna can compete again on his doorstep, on Altenberg ice. But unlike the title fights in February 2020, the 30-year-old is much more relaxed about the mission. “The pressure is less, we will be fine again, but we can handle the task more relaxed this year,” he says.
In the run-up to the World Cup last year, Francesco Friedrich put a heavy burden on himself. The fat athlete really wanted to beat the record of Eugenio Monti. The Italian won the gold in two throws five times in a row in the 1950s. When Friedrich managed to do so, his striker Thorsten Margis admitted: “We were under tremendous pressure, and we also had moments that we were not sure of.” Twelve months later, Frederick said, “Everyone expected this title from us.”
Everything else is reappear. At least in the world championships. Friedrich’s view is directed at the Olympic Games in Beijing next year: “We definitely want to defend the double gold in the games, which are of the highest priority,” Friedrich says. The bobsleigh pilot was unsuccessful in overcoming the competition in two and four matches in two consecutive matches.
Because of this overall goal, Friedrich was not happy to postpone the World Championships. He knows Altenburger Pan well, which is why preparation was easier for him and his team. “In terms of the Olympic Games, Lake Placid was still better for us.” Because in the US he could see if his big skate was as good as it sounds. “If we could see there that our quadruple is going better than it has been in previous years, it would have been beneficial for us.”
Uncertainty remains of whether it is too dominant in European railways. Since the World Cup Final in Innsbruck Eagles last weekend, he has been allowed to take extra luggage with him again. The big crystal ball to win two and four World Cups, plus two small cups for discipline classification. In a total of 16 races, the winner was Francesco Friedrich 15 times. Only once was his team-mate Johannes Lochner twice as fast. Friedrich, who was 1.83 meters tall and weighed 96 kg, won the overall ranking for the fourth time, with four successes in two and three of four. In addition, he took the top spot in this ranking with 52 wins. Andre Lange, the four-time Olympic champion with 46 victories, was ousted.
Despite the home match and all the successes and records, Francesco Friedrich approaches the title fights title fights at the Saxon Winter Sports Resort Altenberg with great respect. “This is a world championship that has nothing to do with the season’s course,” he says. This is a competition in and of itself in which you depend on what the day looks like. Hansie Lochner sees a great competitor, and he also has the Austrian Benjamin Mayer, the Latvians around Oskars Milbardis and the Canadians with Justin Krebs on his list. This is why the Saxon realist warns of arrogance: “You should not be praised. We still have four runs, and we should all do well.”
But even at first, his rivals are hard to keep up with Friedrich’s crew. “This is the alpha and the omega, because he is so confident,” national team coach Rene Spice said of his most successful driver. In order to preserve competition, Friedrich rearranged his team this winter. Instead of just Thorsten Margis, who sped him to five World Cup wins in two, Alexander Schuller was allowed to lead in half of the races this season. Also in the four, the 31-year-old Margis had to make way for the eight-year-old student as the last man. He is now directly behind the pilot. This adjustment was made with the aim of showing the Olympic Games in 2022. “Nobody has ever achieved a double gold, that would be a good record,” Friedrich says. But it is far from the end. In 2023 the World Championships will be held again in St. Moritz. “That’s ten years after the first world title,” says the record driver. Friedrich has no shortage of reasons to continue his unique tour.