The United States will take part in the opening round of this season’s International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Sigulda in Latvia this weekend despite earlier fears over the safety of the track which reportedly prompted them to forego practising there.
insidethegames has obtained video footage showing damage being caused to the track - believed to be at curve 15 during use of the track last week - by a mono-bob which appeared to go too high around a bend and crashed, leaving a metal part of the sled embedded between the track and the surrounding roof.
A second video shows efforts being made to pull the jammed part free of the track using a rope tied to a lorry.
The forthcoming competition marks the first time a joint World Cup race series for bobsleigh and skeleton athletes has been hosted in Latvia.
The last World Cup event at the Sigulda track, involving only skeleton racing, took place 13 years ago, although it has since been used for Europa Cup racing.
An official currently at Sigulda told insidethegames that the US team had refused to take part in a practice session because they had safety concerns over the roof of the course, which was believed to have been damaged by a South Korean sled.
Competitors from all other teams went ahead with the session.
Subsequently two senior US officials were believed to have been involved in discussions about the incident.
Tonight a senior official from USA Bobsled & Skeleton told insidethegames that the team was competing, claiming they "do not have any concerns about the track".
An IBSF official commented: "The US Team did participate in the training sessions.
"I guess you refer to a training incident last week which was not an IBSF competition.
"As usual after any incident the track management checked the track afterwards and did necessary repairs."
Event organisers are expecting a crowd of around 4,000 spectators per day over the competition that runs from tomorrow until Sunday (December 9) and forms the first of the eight-stage World Cup series.
Fans will be able to watch Olympic, world and European champions in action.
Francesco Friedrich of Germany, Olympic and world champion in the 2-man and 4-man Bobsleigh, will take part in Saturday’s (December 8) two-man bob event.
Saturday will also see the defending World Cup skeleton holder Yun Sung-bin of South Korea and local hero and world and European champion Martins Dukurs.
Yun was indisputably the dominant athlete in the men’s skeleton last winter.
Dukurs, who won the overall World Cup between 2010 and 2017, reversed his decision to retire following a disappointing fourth place at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 34-year-old will start the 2018/2019 World Cup opener with renewed motivation.
Tomorrow Friedrich’s team-mate Mariama Jamanka, who won Olympic gold in the 2-woman bobsleigh, will be the one to watch.
The 4-man bobsleighs will not compete at the World Cup opener in Sigulda.