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Martins Dukurs wants one more chance at missing Olympic gold

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Skeleton slider Martins Dukurs, one of the greatest Winter Olympians of all time without a gold medal, said he intends to compete another four years for another opportunity to fill his resumé, according to Latvian media.

It was thought that the Latvian, who turns 34 on Saturday, might retire after his fourth-place finish in PyeongChang following silver medals in 2010 and 2014.

In January, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation reported that Dukurs and older brother Tomass Dukurs had retired from World Cup competition.

Now that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Dukurs, nicknamed “Superman,” won five world championships and eight straight World Cup season titles. At the last three Olympics, Dukurs saw a host-country slider take gold — Canadian Jon Montgomery in 2010, Russian Alexksandr Tretiyakov in 2014 and South Korean Yun Sungbin last month.

Tretiyakov’s gold medal was stripped on Nov. 22 as part of Russian athlete doping sanctions from the Sochi Games, making it appear likely that Dukurs would be elevated to gold. But then Tretiyakov and other Russians were reinstated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Feb. 1.

“The evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned,” CAS said Feb. 1.

Latvia, apart from its time competing as part of the Soviet Union, has two Summer Olympic gold medalists (gymnast Igors Vihrovs and BMX rider Māris Štrombergs) but none from the Winter Games. Its eight Winter Olympic medals are the most by any nation without a gold.

Dukurs’ path to 2022 gold appears it must go through three men who are a decade younger than him — Yun, Olympic silver medalist Nikita Tregubov of Russia and Chinese up-and-comer Geng Wenqiang, who was 13th in PyeongChang but should have a big home-track boost in Beijing.

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MORE: Top skeleton moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Germany, with tie for gold, sweeps four-man bobsled medals to close worlds

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With a tie for four-man gold, Germany notched the first-ever men’s bobsled medal sweep at an Olympics or world championships on Sunday.

Francesco Friedrich and Johannes Lochner tied for the four-man world title with identical times after four runs of 3:14.10 in Koenigssee, Germany. Countryman Nico Walther took bronze, .16 behind.

The top American was 2010 Olympic champion Steven Holcomb in fifth. Holcomb was .01 out of bronze going into the fourth and final run but ended up. 18 behind Walther.

“This is really hard to swallow for these guys,” U.S. coach Brian Shimer said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “Holcomb’s team is starting to show signs of greatness, and they’ve come a long way for such a young push crew, and Holcomb continues to get back to his old self after a couple of years of injuries. I know he’s got to be really disappointed, but this race showed we’re taking a big step in the right direction.”

Germany completed a dominant world bobsled and skeleton championships by taking eight of the 15 medals in Olympic-program events. Last weekend, Friedrich earned his fourth straight world title in two-man bobsled.

Earlier Sunday, Latvian Martins Dukurs won his fifth skeleton world title in the last six editions. Dukurs, who settled for silver at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, beat German Axel Jungk by .37 after four runs in Koenigssee.

“I was really lucky, especially my fourth run was awful,” said Dukurs, who held on despite having the fourth-fastest third and fourth runs. “But that’s the past, luckily for me also the other guys made mistakes.”

Russian Olympian Nikita Tregybov took bronze. Olympic bronze medalist Matthew Antoine was the top American in seventh.

“I’m disappointed, seventh isn’t what I came here to achieve,” Antoine said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “I don’t think I slid all that poorly, but I didn’t push very well, and on a track like this, you can’t give up that much at the start and expect to have a good result. The reality is that I’m an Olympic medalist and results like this don’t mean anything to me.”

The race lacked one of the PyeongChang Olympic favorites, South Korean Yun Sung-bin, who skipped worlds to get more training time in South Korea.

The rest of the top bobsledders and skeleton sliders will join Yun in South Korea in March for training and the final World Cup stop at the 2018 Olympic venue.

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MORE: Germany dominates women’s skeleton worlds

South Korea second skeleton team to boycott Sochi World Championships

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The Korea Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (KBSF) is reportedly the second federation to announce a boycott of the upcoming world championships, meaning two of the top three skeleton sliders will not compete in the biggest competition of the season.

Only the KBSF skeleton team has announced a boycott; according to South Korean media, no decision has been announced by the bobsled team.

The IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships are set to be held in Feb. 2017 in Sochi, Russia. Other nations, including the U.S., have threatened to boycott in the wake of the McLaren report, which contained serious allegations about a state-run doping program that involved 1,000 Russian athletes.

The Latvian skeleton federation, home to the reigning world champion in skeleton, was the first to announce that they would not participate in the world championships if they are not moved out of Russia.

Their announcement stated:

“We will be glad to race in World Championships at any track of the world, but WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in World Championships in Sochi, Russia – a place where Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014.”

Latvia’s Martins Dukurs, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, won skeleton gold at last year’s world championships, and South Korea’s Yun Sung-bin tied for silver.

With both athletes boycotting, Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov would be a clear favorite to win the world title. Tretyakov tied with Sung-bun for world silver in 2016, was the Olympic champion in Sochi and is one of the athletes named on the Sochi doping list, as first reported by The New York Times in May.

MORE: Top skeleton slider’s federation boycotts Sochi world championships