Host City: Lillehammer, Norway
Venue(s): Bobsleigh and Luge Track, Hunderfossen
Date Started: February 26, 1994
Date Finished: February 27, 1994
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement.
The 1994 Olympic four-man bobsleigh had the makings of a classic. The list of medal contenders appeared longer than for any previous Olympics. While the Central European powers were still strong, a new generation of drivers from outside the traditional bobsleigh zone were threatening to break through. Gustav Weder had driven Switzerland I to the 1993 World Championship and the two-man event at Lillehammer and was a major medal threat but so were the German crews headed by Wolfgang Hoppe and Harald Czudaj, and Brian Shimer of the USA had taken the 1993 World Cup title. Shimer’s reign as title holder had been ended in 1994 by the brilliant young Canadian Pierre Leuders and also challenging the established powers were Great Britain.
Shimer, driving USA II, had a disastrous Olympics as a poor first run was followed by the ignominy of disqualification for having runners that were warmer than legally permitted. Lueders’ Canadians failed to spark and once again it was left to Germany and Switzerland to monopolise the podium.
Harald Czudaj had been a favourite at the 1992 Games but his preparations were ruined when it was revealed shortly before competition began that he acted as an informer for the Stasi, the East German secret police, for a number of years in the 80s in exchange for dropping a drunk-driving charge. Free from the worries of Albertville he was never headed though his lead was never more than 0.12 seconds throughout. Behind Czudaj’s Germany II bob came Weder’s Swiss world champions and the trio of medallists was completed by Wolfgang Hoppe piloted Germany I. This was Hoppe’s sixth and final Olympic medal and he retired with a tally of two gold, three silver and a bronze.
Jamaica’s appearance at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary had been considered a novelty but in Lillehammer they not only finished in the top half of the field but also defeated sleds from more traditional bobsleigh nations such as the United States, Italy and France. Last of the 29 finishers were the crew from Bosnia-Herzegovina who were competing just two years after the nation gained its’ independence and while fighting was still taking place in the country. The quartet was a multi-ethnic one comprising two Bosnian Muslims, an ethnic Croat and an ethnic Serb and competed using a sled donated by the Dutch.
|28||United States Virgin Islands||ISV||3:35.65|
|29||Bosnia and Herzegovina||BIH||3:39.77|