Latvia’s top bobsleigh team withdraws from Winter Olympics

The withdrawal from Olympic competition of Latvia’s leading four-man bobsleigh team may well have closed out hope of the country gaining any more medals.

The team led by Jānis Miņins announced Feb. 25 that it will not appear in the four heats scheduled to begin Feb. 26 in Whistler, Briitish Columia, a spokeswoman for the team said.

Miņins underwent an appendectomy on the opening day of the Olympics, according to media reports. In addition, his team crashed twice during training runs, leaving crewmen Oskars Melbārdis with a concussion and Daumants Dreiškens with bruising to his shoulder and leg.

The Miņins-led team had been seen by various observers as a medal contender. In February 2009, the team took first place in the bobsleigh World Cup at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Latvia so far has earned two silver medals, one by Andris and Juris Šics in men’s double luge, the other by Martins Dukurs in the men’s skeleton event.

Latvia has a second team in the four-man bobsleigh competition. It is piloted by Edgars Maskalāns, who on Feb. 21 with Dreiškens finished eighth in the two-man bobsleigh event.

The four-man teams from Australia, Liechtenstein and the Netherlands also have dropped out of the competition.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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