Mariama Jananka won gold in the two-woman bobsleigh ©IBSF

Germany's Olympic champion Mariama Jamanka started the season brilliantly with a win in the two-woman bobsleigh race at the International Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup event in Sigulda in Latvia.

Along with push athlete Vanessa Mark, Jamanka claimed the sixth World Cup victory of her career, while Mark took her second.

Jamanka was the world champion in the discipline in 2019 and last year's overall World Cup runner-up.

There was little to separate the Germans from the Austria team of Katrin Beierl and Jennifer Onasanya, who made a World Cup podium for the first time and only 0.13sec slower than the winners.

Germany's Kim Kalicki and Annabel Galander were third, 0.58 off the pace of their compatriots.

Kalicki won a silver medal at last year's World Championships, while Galander made her World Cup debut.

Stephanie Schneider, the reigning World Cup champion, was not selected for this event by Germany.

Swiss pairing Melanie Hasler and Jasmin Naef also celebrated their best World Cup result to date by placing fourth place, 0.96 behind.

Germany's third pair of Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi set a new track start record of 5.21sec, only to crash on their first run and drop out of contention.

The Russians missed this race and will miss all of the bobsleigh contests in Sigulda after a COVID-19 outbreak among the team.

Reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion Francesco Friedrich made a string start to the 2020-2021 season ©IBSF
Reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion Francesco Friedrich made a string start to the 2020-2021 season ©IBSF

The men's two-man bobsleigh saw the rivalry between Germans Francesco Friedrich and Johannes Lochner continue, with the former coming out on top in the opening race.

Pushed by Thorsten Margis, double Olympic champion Friedrich came from behind to set the fastest time on the second run and beat Lochner, pushed by Christian Rasp, by a margin of just 0.04sec.

Lochner had never raced at Sigulda before, but set a new track record in the first run of 49.51.

Michael Vogt and push athlete Sandro Michel of Switzerland took the bronze, 0.26 behind the leaders - closely followed by Christian Hammers and Christoph Hafer of Germany in fourth.

Hosts Latvia then rounded off the top five thanks to the pairing of Ralfs Berzins and Arnis Bebriss.

Friedrich has been overall winner of the last two IBSF World Cup seasons and three of the last four.

A further two-man bobsleigh race is scheduled tomorrow.