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Serious bobsleigh accidents: Lochner worries about taking part in the World Cup

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Serious bobsleigh accidents: Lochner worries about taking part in the World Cup

The opening training for the Bobsleigh World Cup in Altenberg was overshadowed by two serious falls. Two-man bobsleigh world champion Johannes Lochner from Berchtesgaden crashed in the four-man bobsleigh, as did the four-man bobsleigh run by Swiss pilot Michael Vogt. Lochner got off lightly, his pusher Erec Bruckert spent a night in the hospital with a mild concussion.

“Hansi has problems with his neck, which is why he was taken out of the World Cup,” said national coach Rene Spies about Lochner. According to Spies, the co-favorite’s World Cup start in Winterberg next week should not be in jeopardy. Later on Wednesday, the German association BSD also announced that Lochner’s “injury to the cervical spine” would be examined in more detail using an MRI on Thursday in Munich.

To the hospital by helicopter

The Swiss team’s fall ended with more serious consequences. According to the Swiss Sliding Association, pusher Sandro Michel suffered significant injuries. Accordingly, the four-man bobsleigh, which weighs 210 kilograms, tipped over in the lower part of the track and slid on its side into the ascending finish area – but then went back out of control and hit Michel, who was on the track. In such a situation, a four-man bobsleigh can reach a speed of around 50 to 60 kilometers per hour.

Experienced and successful duo: Sandro Michel (l.) and Michael Vogt: Image: EPA

The 27-year-old pusher immediately received emergency medical care, was flown by helicopter to the university hospital in Dresden and was immediately operated on. According to the association, he sustained injuries to his chest, pelvis and thigh area. Michel is in stable condition and out of danger.

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Pilot Vogt suffered a severe concussion and bruises. He also had to spend the night in the hospital. The other two pushers, Dominik Hufschmid and Andreas Haas, escaped with minor injuries.

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BSD sports director Thomas Schwab spoke of a “tragic accident”. Of course, an incident like this has to be responded to. “The organizer in Altenberg will take appropriate measures to ensure that no bobsleigh that falls slides up and back to the finish line – as far as this can be ensured.” Something similar is being examined for the World Championships in Winterberg, which are scheduled to take place at the end of February and beginning of March.

In addition, there will be a “discussion on the subject of safety in bobsleigh sports” between athletes and the world association IBSF on Friday in Altenberg: “We will take this very seriously and try to respond to the things that the athletes put forward.”

Michel and Vogt took 4th place in the two-man bobsleigh behind three German bobsleighs at the 2022 Olympic Games and won bronze in the 2023 World Championships. It wasn’t until the beginning of February that the two of them won silver in the European Championships in Sigulda. Swiss Sliding gave the other Swiss teams in Altenberg the choice of whether or not they wanted to take part in further training and the races on the weekend.

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