Germany has back (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Germany has back (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Taking it a little slower: Francesco Friedrich (front, January 7, 2023)

The situation is serious for Francesco Friedrich, the best bobsleigh pilot of the past decade: “I injured myself during home training,” said “Franz” after his unusual sixth place on Saturday in the two-man bobsleigh in Winterberg. A “muscle fiber tear in the adductor area” plagues the seven-time two-man world champion, explained national coach René Spies and announced with a view to the title mission: “It will be a tightrope act to get through it, with a lot of physiotherapy.”

The injury slows him down at the wrong time, the World Championships in St. Moritz are coming up in three weeks, the highlight of the season on the ice track. According to Friedrich, the injury was imminent: “A lot of it probably stems from the fact that I have a lot of little things and blockages in my back from the falls that don’t go away immediately.”

Even before the injury, the two-time Olympic champion, who was used to success, had slacked off. In Lake Placid shortly before Christmas, he finished just under second in two-man and four-man bobsleigh, but without any injury worries. As in Winterberg, teammate Johannes Lochner won the two-man sled, and Spies said he was “in excellent shape” with brakeman Georg Fleischhauer.

Despite the good performance of the competition: A healthy Friedrich would be the clear favourite. Exactly ten years after his first title in St. Moritz, he could claim his eighth victory at the two-man World Championship. It would be the fifth in a row, Friedrich has been undefeated at the world championships in two- and four-man bobsleigh since 2017.

For the upcoming World Cup in Altenberg (January 14/15), Friedrich expects an improvement, but no miracles: »It (the injury) was 16 days ago, which means that things will look better again by then. Of course not 100 percent. It’s a muscle injury that takes time.« He still has a little of it: The World Cup starts on January 28th. (sid/jW)

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