Russia's Sochi 2014 champion Alexander Tretiakov, centre, was back on the IBSF World Cup podium in Winterburg today after an absence of two years ©IBSF

Russia’s Sochi 2014 skeleton gold medallist Alexander Tretiakov earned his first World Cup victory in nearly two years at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation event at Winterberg in Germany.

Tretiakov was one of 45 Russian athletes whose appeals against suspension were rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the eve of Pyeongchang 2018 in a ruling that referred to a "state-sponsored" doping programme that had been in place during Sochi 2014.

The IBSF had earlier tried to take action against Russian athletes implicated in doping and sample tampering at those Olympic Games.

In what was a highly-unusual step, the IBSF appealed the verdict of its own independent Anti-Doping Hearing Panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after they decided in December last year not to re-impose provisional suspensions against those implicated.

The CAS then ruled they had no jurisdiction, meaning athletes such as Alexander Tretiakov and Sochi 2014 skeleton bronze medlallist Elena Nikitina were allowed to continue competing internationally, although both missed Pyeongchang 2018.

This was Tretiakov's first victory since the World Cup event in Königssee in January 2017. 

His only other World Cup victory in Winterberg came back in February 2007.

Russia's Alexander Tretiakov prepares to get on board ahead of one of his skeleton runs during a gold medal performance at the IBSF World Cup in Winterberg today ©IBSF
Russia's Alexander Tretiakov prepares to get on board ahead of one of his skeleton runs during a gold medal performance at the IBSF World Cup in Winterberg today ©IBSF

Germany’s Axel Jungk finished second, 0.83 seconds back, ahead of Pyengchang 2018 champion Sungbin Yun of South Korea, who was 0.84 seconds adrift.

Jungk, second in the overall World Cup standings last year, improved from fifth place in first heat to a podium finish.

In the overall standings of the BMW IBSF World Cup 2018-2019, Tretiakov and Nikita Tregubov, another Russian and who was the Olympic silver medallist at Pyeongchang 2018, are tied in first place on 417 points after two of eight races.

Tregubov, winner at the season opener in Latvia last weekend, finished fourth in Winterberg.

Defending World Cup champion Yun is in third place overall with 400 points.

"It has been almost two years since I last won a World Cup, so I’m just really happy today," said Tretiakov.

"The start is extremely important in Winterberg.

"That’s my strength, but usually something else has gone wrong here.

"Finally everything worked out great today."

In the women's skeleton event, Germany’s Olympic  silver medallist Jacqueline Lölling celebrated her first win of the season in front of her home crowd as Nikitina dropped from second after the first run to fourth after the second.

Lölling twice set the fastest time and relegated team-mate Tina Hermann  to second place, 0.67 seconds back.

Austria’s Janine Flock finished three hundredths of a second behind to end her first World Cup race of the season in third.

"At the moment I’m really happy that I got two good runs," said Lölling.

"That was the best response to my mistake at the first World Cup in Sigulda.

"I’m really touched to see so many people here to support me at the track today.”

Hermann added:  "I hope I can keep this up."

"The next stop is our home World Cup in Altenberg, where we need to fight for a podium finish again."

Nikitina, the European champion, who won the season opener, missed out on a podium finish by 0.01 seconds, finishing fourth.

Nikitina retains her lead in the overall World Cup standings with 417 points, just ahead of Hermann, who has  410.

Defending World Cup champion Lölling is third overall on 409.

Focus switches to bobsleigh tomorrow when the two-woman and four-man events are due to take place.