Germany's Friedrich defends four-man gold

Posted at 9:29 PM, Feb 19, 2022


GOLD: Team Friedrich, GER, 3:54.30

SILVER: Team Lochner, GER, (+ 0.37)

BRONZE: Team Kripps, CAN, (+ 0.79)


In the final bobsled race of the 2022 Winter Games, Germany struck gold with Francesco Friedrich and earned silver via Johannes Lochner — but Canada's PyeongChang 2018 co-gold medalist Justin Kripps spoiled a potential podium sweep by all of 0.06 seconds. 

By winning the four-man race, Friedrich — Germany's Opening Ceremony flagbearer — successfully defended both his two-man and four-man Olympic titles. Lochner also earned silver in the two-man event.

Friedrich became the first bobsledder in history to win two golds at consecutive Olympics. 

When all was said and done across the three sliding sports, Germany dominated with golds in nine of 10 events. The country won 16 of 30 available medals in luge, skeleton, and bobsled. 

SEE MORE: Germany sweeps two-man bobsled podium with Friedrich, Lochner, Hafer

The initial two runs made it clear Germany would almost certainly win the four-man competition, with one team or another. But several questions remained, even after Heat 3's completion.  

Which German driver would claim gold — Friedrich or Lochner? Could the fourth-place German team led by Christoph Hafer overcome reigning gold medalist Kripps' 0.08-second lead? Did the USA's young, recuperating pilot Hunter Church possess the skills and strength to drive his team into the top 10?

Perhaps most importantly: Could any single heat be anywhere near as compelling, hilarious, and heartwarming as Jamaica's final run, which saw the sled literally ride against a sidewall, a finish time 8.25 seconds off the lead, and athletes exit the course by hugging, patting shoulders, and smooching a lucky egg? 

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SEE MORE: Feel the ... ride? Jamaican four-man sled almost crashes


The morning's first pair of runs saw Friedrich widen his marginal lead from 0.03 seconds to 0.20 over the second-place German team, led by Lochner.  

The next two heats featured the fourth-place German team, led by Hafer, closing the gap on Canada's Kripps — shrinking a 0.17-second differential to just 0.08 seconds. 

Midway down the rankings, American Hunter Church hovered just outside the top 10, while compatriot Frank Del Duca skidded into 15th place, 3.04 seconds off the lead.

SEE MORE: Four-man bobsled: Two American teams inside top 15

Saving the best for last, Jamaica's four-man team — which had returned to the Olympics after a 24-year absence — enjoyed every hundredth of a second spent zig-zagging on the ice. They almost went airborne.

Jamaica finished in 28th place, 8.25 seconds off the lead. 

SEE MORE: Jamaica competes in four-man bobsled at Winter Olympics


In Heat 4, the start list was cut to 20 teams and the order was reversed from slowest to fastest. 

Both U.S. teams not only made it to the top-20, but also managed to improve their standings from the prior heat. In a stunner, Del Duca tied Romania's Mihai Tentea for lucky 13th place. 

SEE MORE: Church pilots USA to 13th after first two four-man runs

Church squeezed into the top 10, despite less cooperative ice. His results were all the more impressive considering his three-heat, 27th-place finish in the two-man race earlier this week, as well as a recent foot surgery. The 25-year-old pilot and his three teammates ended 2.76 seconds off the lead. Church will be one to watch in Milano Cortina 2026. 

But it all boiled down to the top four. Ultimately, Hafner couldn't make up the deficit. In his fourth run, he gained only 0.02 seconds on Canada's Kripps. 

Lochner maintained a 0.42-second lead over Kripps, and ended up nearly that far behind Friedrich. Though he struggled in his first run, Friedrich finished first in 3:54.30  — 0.37 seconds ahead of his silver medal-winning compatriot. 

Friedrich is now a two-time Olympic champion in both the two- and four-man competitions. With four Olympic victories, 13 world championship golds, and a treasure trove of European Championship medals, the so-called "Ice Kaiser" has cemented his status as one of the greatest bobsledders of all time.

But the question remains: Does he have a lucky egg? 

SEE MORE: Bobsled 101: Olympic History