As the new season begins, can anyone stop the winter sport powerhouse?

The new IBSF Bobsleigh World Cup season is underway, with the first event in Sigulda, Latvia, running until Sunday (9 December).

After winning four medals at PyeongChang 2018, including gold in all three disciplines, Germany are looking to improve that record at Beijing 2022, and the preparations have already started.

The Europeans are currently developing a new sled which they hope to see in action before the end of the year.

So who are the names to keep an eye on this season? Read on to find out.

The German powerhouse

Coach René Spies has extended his contract as head coach of the German bobsleigh team following the immense success at PyeongChang 2018 and has been joined by Stefan Bosch who has left the Canadian team after 10 years working with Olympic champs Kaillie Humphries and Justin Kripps.

Their star in the men's events is Francesco Friedrich, an Olympic and World Champion in the two-man and four-man bobsleigh.

Friedrich is looking to better his second place from last year’s World Cup standings in the two-man bobsleigh.

His target is to clinch the Crystal Globe trophy for overall winner, which Canada’s Justin Kripps snatched from his grasp last season. Kripps also tied him for gold in the two-man event at the 2018 Winter Olympics after a dead heat.

The Canadian challenger

Kripps started the season off well by winning both the two- and four-man bobsleigh at the first event of the second-tier North American Cup back in November in front of his home crowd in Whistler.

Whistler will host the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships in February, and one of the Canadian’s focuses this season will be on getting prepared for that special event on home ice.

However, retaining his overall World Cup title will also be on his mind.

The South Korean outsider

South Korea is no bobsleigh powerhouse like Germany and Canada, but they have appeared on the podium every so often in the recent years.

Won Jun-jong won the overall World Cup in the two-man bobsleigh in 2015-2016 and finished third last year. He is set for a starts at Sigulda and will be one Germany’s Friedrich should take seriously in his hunt for the Crystal Globe.

The South Korean claimed Olympic silver this year in front of his home crowd behind Friedrich in the four-man after tying with Nico Walther. The battle could very well be between these three guys once again.

Huge blow for Latvia

The most successful bobsledder in Latvian history, the Olympic and former world champ Oskars Melbardis, will miss the 2018/19 season due to injury.

Instead, Oskars Kibermanis and rookie Ralfs Berzins, fourth at the Under-23 World Junior Championships, will pilot the two Latvian bobsleigh teams this winter.

Jamanka stays in Olympic form

In the two-woman bobsleigh, it is also the Germans who are the big favourites to win the title.

The three German pilots this season are European champion Stephanie Schneider, European Championships bronze medallist Anna Köhler, and PyeongChang 2018 winner Mariama Jamanka.

While Schneider got injured during the Games and finished fourth, Jamanka won Germany’s first two-woman bobsleigh medal since 2006.

And all eyes will be on Jamanka who recently proved that she has stayed in shape since PyeongChang by claiming the German national title in November.

Canada’s Kaillie Humphries, last year's World Cup overall champion, finished third at PyeongChang after winning two consecutive Olympic golds in Vancouver and Sochi.

But she won't be on the circuit this year as she's taking a year off from competition after her bronze in Korea alongside former track and field athlete Phylicia George.

However, Humphries has revealed that she is targeting Beijing 2022.

So the biggest threat to the Germans might well come from USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor.

The 34-year-old shows no sign of thinking of retiring anytime soon.

Meyers and Canada’s Humphries were the first women to compete with andagainst men in an international four-man bobsleigh competition in 2014.

And the three-time Olympic medallist also brought the United States its first world championships gold in women’s bobsleigh.

World Cup calendar

7–9 December 2018 Sigulda, Latvia: Two-woman, two-man (two races)

15–16 December 2018 Winterberg, Germany: Two-woman, four-man (two races)

5–6 January 2019 Altenburg, Germany: Two-woman, two-man, four-man

12–13 January 2019 Koenigsee, Germany: Two-woman, two-man, four-man

19–20 January 2019 Innsbruck, Austria: Two-woman, two-man, four-man

26–27 January 2019 St. Moritz, Switzerland: Two-man, two-woman, four-man

15–16 February 2019 Lake Placid, USA: Two-woman, two-man, four-man

23–24 February 2019 Calgary, Canada: Two-woman, two-man, four-man

World Championships 1–3 March 2019 Whistler, Canada: Two-man, two-woman, mixed team

World Championships 8–9 March 2019 Whistler, Canada: Four-man

Enjoyed this story? Like it or share it with your friends!