Latvia's Melbardis ends 4-man bobsled World Cup with win
SOCHI, Russia (AP) Latvia's Oskars Melbardis finished his title-winning season in the four-man bobsled World Cup with a win in the last race Sunday.
The Latvian crew set a time of 1 minute 50.03 seconds over two runs in Sochi, beating the Russian sled piloted by Alexander Kasyanov by just 0.02 seconds.
It was Melbardis' fourth consecutive four-man win of a breakout season that has brought his and Latvia's first two-man and four-man World Cup titles.
Kasyanov had led after setting a track-record time of 54.78 seconds on his crew's first run, but the Russian sled could not match the Latvians' fast start on the second run, and lost out.
In televised comments, Melbardis thanked his crew for the win, saying their pushing power had more than compensated for mistakes on his part.
"The start was great," he said. "Today my driving was not so good."
Third place went to Germany's Maximilian Arndt, 0.64 seconds off Melbardis' time.
Switzerland's Rico Peter had been third after the first run but crashed in spectacular style on the second run. The crew members were shaken but appeared to avoid serious injury.
Melbardis had been assured of the overall World Cup title when his closest rival, Germany's Francesco Friedrich, opted not to race in Sochi. Friedrich said he wanted to focus on the upcoming world championships rather than overhauling Melbardis' large points lead.
That made Melbardis a double champion after he and brakeman Daumans Dreiskens secured the two-man World Cup title on Saturday.