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Day 2- 16th FIL World Championships, Feb 15th to Feb 19th, 2007 in Grande Prairie, Alberta (CAN)

First Gold Medals go to AustriaJust like two years ago in Latsch (ITA), Austria grabbed the first gold medals that were awarded at the World Championships. Melanie Batkowski who had become World Champion at the age of 15 could repeat her success: I am very proud and happy that I could defend my title, with a different team though, said the in the meantime 18-year-old as the only remaining team member.

In Grande Prairie Gernot Schwab and the recent overall World Cup winners Christian Schatz/Gerhard Mühlbacher were racing with her. For all three of them it was a highlight in their careers. It has been the biggest goal in my life to become World Champion, said Gernot Schwab. Now I have nothing to lose and still all to win in the individual event. But I felt guilty that just in the team event I did not show my best. I misjudged the track surface and prepared my sled the same way as yesterday, but it was totally different today. In fact he finished his run as second 11 hundredths behind Patrick Pigneter of Italy I which was almost his worst performance on Canadian ice. Schwab had won both World Cups in Grande Prairie last season and also has been fastest in nearly all training runs.

Schatz/Mühlbacher kept their excellent form from the past three World Cup races and won their race. For Christian Schatz it was his very first appearance at World Championships and also for Gerhard Mühlbacher it was his best result in World Championships so far: I already have a bronze medal at home, but that´s from four years ago, he said. He had finished third in Zelezniki (SLO) 2003 with his former partner Harald Kleinhofer.

The silver medal went to Italy I, a team with only three people. Patrick Pigneter did a double performance and started as a single seater as well as a double seater with his partner Florian Clara. Renate Gietl completed the successful team.

With a second place by Reinhard Beer/Herbert Kögl in the double seater´s run the team Austria II with Marlies Wagner and Gerald Kammerlander in the single events managed to claim the third spot on the podium. I personally was not satisfied with my run, said Marlies Wagner, who already won a team silver medal as a newcomer back in 2001 in Stein/Enns (AUT) and finished fourth today, but thank God Beer/Kögl had a fantastic run and put us on the podium. I am highly motivated for the individual event now and I know what I have to change on my sled.

The result was most probably influenced by the disqualification of the team of Russia I with top favourite Ekatharina Lavrentjeva amongst them. In the men´s single run Ivan Lazarev had been disqualified because of too warm runners. That problem occurred because Lazarev had to use a replacement sled which came right off the warm car and therefore did not meet the temperature requirements.

The competition will be continued tomorrow, Sunday, at 9.30am with the decision in the double seaters event (two runs), two runs of the women´s single event and one run of the men´s single race. The remaining runs will be held on Monday.

Results Team Event:

1. AUSTRIA I (Melanie BATKOWSKI, Gernot SCHWAB, Christian SCHATZ/Gerhard MÜHLBACHER)89 points
2. ITALY I (Renate GIETL, Patrick PIGNETER, Patrick PIGNETER/Florian CLARA)85 points
3. AUSTRIA II (Marlies WAGNER, Gerald KAMMERLANDER, Reinhard BEER/Herbert KÖGL)82 points
4. RUSSIA II (Julia VETLOVA, Aleksandr EGOROV, Aleksandr EGOROV/Petr POPOV)75 points
5. POLAND (Kinga GAWLAS, Adam JEDRZEJKO, Andrzej LASZCZAK, Damian WANICZEK)74 points
6. ITALY II (Barbara ABART, Florian BREITENBERGER, Martin PSENNER/Johannes HOFER)73 points
7. GERMANY (Michaela MAURER, Marcus GRAUSAM, Björn KIERSPEL/Christian WICHAN)66 points
8. SLOVENIA (Nina BUCINEL, Miha MEGLIC, Borut KRALJ/Ziga PAGON) 64 points


FIL Media Service