Busy weekend for British Bobsleigh teams

Busy weekend for British Bobsleigh teams

The weekend’s bobsleigh action saw British involvement in monobob, women’s and 2-man competition at World Cup level, while two more GB crews completed their Europa Cup campaigns.

Brad Hall and Taylor Lawrence finished seventh in Saturday’s 2-man in Sigulda before Hall opted to miss Sunday’s second race in order to rest and recover following a steep return to sliding following back surgery during pre-season.

Hall returned to competition ahead of schedule after having a microdiscectomy  to cure symptoms associated with a prolapsed disc as recently as October but he has always said that his focus is on the World Championships in Winterberg at the end of this month and beginning of next.

He and Lawrence missed a wider podium place by just two hundredths of a second on Saturday as they started eighth quickest in both runs and jumped up from ninth position at the halfway mark in Latvia.

Fellow Brits Adam Baird, Jens Hullah and Luka Williams made their 2-man debuts at this level, Hullah pushing Baird to 17th on Saturday before Williams stepped in for a 13th-place finish in the European Championships on Sunday. All three men only tasted World Cup action in the 4-man for the first time last week but showed they are not out place at the top level.

Having had just one male pilot on the World cup circuit since Lamin Deen’s retirement at the end of the Beijing cycle, GB now has three men who have driven sleds on the sport’s top circuit this season, with John Stanbridge also having impressed last month.  

Adele Nicoll had a busy weekend as she raced twice in the women’s bobsleigh and once in the monobob in Sigulda. The current British Shot Putt Champion placed seventh in the European Championships and 11th in the World Cup in the monobob, with her second run in that event another indication of her potential just a year-and-a-half into her driving career.

Nicoll was sixth quickest overall and the fifth fastest European in Run 2 as she went quicker than a host of more experienced pilots in just her fifth World Cup monobob competition.

Either side of Saturday’s single athlete event, Nicoll competed in the women’s bobsleigh, unfortunately crashing out of Sunday’s European Championships with Kya Placide after finishing ninth with Willa Gibb on Friday. Nicoll and Gibb were the 10th fastest off the top in both runs and were only beaten by sleds piloted by athletes who finished in the top eight in either women’s bobsleigh or monobob at the last Olympics in China.

Over on the EC circuit in Austria, Nikki McSweeney ended her campaign with ninth and fifth-place finishes alongside Maddison Illsley. McSweeny and Illsley comfortably made the wider podium in the second of those races on Saturday as they started seventh and fifth and came down fourth and then sixth to miss out on a top five by just three hundredths of a second.

Those results mean McSweeney finishes the EC season in fifth-place in the overall rankings, having been ninth (three times), 10th, fifth and fourth in her six races. She sat out the meets in Altenberg and Sigulda before and after Christmas. Having won in Moritz a couple of weeks ago and medalled in Lillehammer in the season opener, Nicoll finished eighth overall despite only featuring in half of the eight EC events.

Like McSweeney, Stanbridge also finished fifth in the EC 2-man standings after placing 10th in Friday’s final event with Alex Cartagena. Stanbridge had four top-six results in eight races and - bar a crash in Altenberg - was never outside the top 10 despite his previous best before this season being 12th in November 2021. 

The 33-year-old, who broke his neck in late 2022, was 18th and 16th in a 4-man double header on Saturday and Sunday with Ben Riekstins, Ally Kay and Callum Dixon. The team finished 10th in the overall EC standings.