SKELETON: Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships Begin Friday in Altenberg, Germany
ALTENBERG, Germany-The 2008 bobsled and skeleton World Championships will take place in Altenberg, Germany from Friday, Feb. 15 through Sunday, Feb. 24. The 1,413-meter track is regarded as one of the most difficult courses in the world."Altenberg has a little bit of everything,"said Brian Shimer, U.S. men's bobsled head coach."It has a long flat start, where the best push teams really separate themselves from the rest of the field. It's also the most technically difficult track on the circuit. I think it's going to be a great challenge for all of our drivers."The World Champion in each of the five disciplines will be decided by the competitor with the lowest combined time in four heats. The four heats will be broken into two days for each discipline. The schedule is as follows, with all times listed in EST: - Friday, Feb. 15: Women's Bobsled Heats 1 , 2 at 8:30 am - Saturday, Feb. 16: Two-man Bobsled Heats 1 , 2 at 4 am; Women's Bobsled Heats 3 , 4 at 8:30 am - Sunday, Feb. 17: Two-man Bobsled Heats 3 , 4 at 5 am - Monday, Feb. 18: Team Competition at 8:15 am - Thursday, Feb. 21: Men's Skeleton Heats 1 ,2 at 8 am - Friday, Feb. 22: Women's Skeleton Heats 1 ,2 at 3 am; Men's Skeleton Heats 3 ,4 at 8 am - Saturday, Feb. 23: Four-Man Bobsled Heats 1 ,2 at 3 am; Women's Skeleton Heats 3 , 4 at 8 am - Sunday, Feb. 24: Four-man Bobsled Heats 3 , 4 at 3 am The U.S. boasts a talented roster of athletes, a blend of World Championship rookies and veterans. Women's Bobsled Shauna Rohbock (Orem, Utah) will look to lead the U.S. women's bobsled team with brakewoman Valerie Fleming (Foster City, Calif.) after having finished the World Cup season ranked fourth in overall standings, just 16 points from the top three. Despite not having driven the difficult track in three years, Rohbock has extensive experience competing on the world's stage. This will be Rohbock's fifth World Championship race as a pilot. Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.) made her World Championship debut as a driver last season in St. Moritz, Switzerland, impressing the field by finishing eighth. Jamia Jackson (Lake City, Fla.) will compete in her first World Championship competition this weekend after having finished just 0.01 seconds away from the medals at Junior World Championships in Igls, Austria. Men's Bobsled Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) concluded the World Cup season ranked third in combined points after finishing fourth in both two and four-man standings. Despite only having competed on the harrowing Altenberg track once in his career, Holcomb will challenge the Germans for his first World Championship crown. Two-time Olympian Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) brings six years of driving experience with him, and will compete in his third World Championships in Altenberg. John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) has won three America's Cup titles in his career as a bobsled driver, and will make his World Championship debut this week. Men's Skeleton Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) was only one point away from second in overall World Cup standings this season, finishing the year ranked third. The 2007 World Cup Champion claimed World Championship bronze last season, and will be a contender for the title. Lund will have to battle friend and teammate Eric Bernotas (Avondale, Pa.) for the crown. Bernotas finished the season ranked fourth in overall points, and was the World Championship silver medalist in 2007. Caleb Smith (Lake Placid, N.Y.) will compete in his second World Championships in his second full season on the World Cup team. Women's Skeleton Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) claimed her second overall World Cup title this season after winning six medals, four of them gold. The young American won World Championship bronze last season, and will be a favorite to take the crown. Courtney Yamada (Boise, Idaho) will be competing in only her second World Championships in Altenberg, while Annie O'Shea (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) will make her first World Championship appearance after completing her first season on the World Cup tour. Don't miss the action LIVE and On-Demand on NBCOlympics.com, courtesy of MediaZone. Check out the races for only $4.99, and find out more about bobsled, skeleton and luge, the fastest sports on ice. About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation' The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Columbia Sportswear Company, Speedo, CW-X, KBC Helmets, ULU Boots, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Lumber Liquidators and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.