Bobsleigh-Germany chase dominance, monobob makes debut in Beijing

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SHENZHEN, China, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The Winter Olympics slide events are guaranteed to bring drama. Indeed, the final of the two-man bobsleigh in Pyeongchang four years ago was so dramatic that four men took gold.

Canada's Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz rocketed over the finish line in three minutes 16.86 seconds - exactly matching Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis.

Knowing it was a tie, the overjoyed Germans rushed to celebrate with their Canadian counterparts.

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The competition will be back along with the camaraderie at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre in Beijing next month.

Germany are favourites for gold in the two-man and four-man bobsleigh competitions, after Friedrich won the annual world cup competition on Sunday with Kripps and Canada runners-up.

Touted as the greatest bobsleigher of all time, Friedrich is confident Germany will succeed again in Beijing.

"We are the best team here, we are really good sportsmen, we are friends, and we do it for us all and not everyone for his own," he said in a video for the Games.

Germany also go into the two-woman bobsleigh competition as defending Olympic champions, though the United States are looking strong, with pilot Elana Meyers Taylor winning the World Cup tournament on Sunday.

The Beijing games will also see the Olympic debut of a women only sport, monobob, with a single driver in the sleigh.

With all competitors having to use the same design and model sled, it is seen as a leveller for competing countries with different budgets.

Taylor is a strong contender, having won the overall title for the season on Saturday ahead of team mate Kaillie Humphries, who won the final event of the campaign ahead of Taylor.

Humphries won gold medals for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics but left the team after complaining of harassment. She will be representing the U.S. after being naturalised last year.

The Yanqing luge track has caused controversy after Polish slider Mateusz Sochowicz needed surgery after fracturing his kneecap and cutting his right leg to the bone when he hit a closed barrier that should have been open during a training session in November.

Additional safety measures have been introduced, the International Luge Federation said. L8N2S02VV

In skeleton, where sliders hurtle down the track head first and can reach speeds over 130kph, Britain's twice defending champion Lizzy Yarnold has retired, increasing the chances for German pair Tina Hermann and Jacqueline Loelling.

In the men's skeleton, Latvia's Martin Dukurs, nicknamed 'superman', is aiming to win his first gold after dominating the World Cup competition, winning it for the 11th time last week.

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Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Ken Ferris

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