ST. MORITZ, Switzerland -- Switzerland scored a 1-2 sweep in the world two-man bobsled championships Sunday, with Erich Schaerer and Max Ruegg winning the gold medal and Hans Hiltebrand and Ulrich Baechli taking the silver.
Schaerer clocked an aggregate time for four runs of 4 minutes 41.33 seconds. Hiltebrand's time was 4:41.86, ahead of East Germany's Horst Schoenau and Andreas Kirchner, who took the bronze medal in 4:42.00.
The second East German team of Detlef Richter and Dietmar Schauerhammer finished fourth in 4:44.16.
The final standings confirmed the results of the first two heats Saturday. Schaerer had his victory assured after a sensational 1:10.01 run in the third heat, coming close to his own track record of 1:09.93 which he established in last week's practice runs.
Schaerer, three-time world champion in the late 1970s, regained the title from 1980 champion Bernhard Germeshausen of East Germany, who was injured and did not defend the title.
A bright, sunny day with a temperature of minus three centigrade made for a very fast track which had to be negotiated with absolute precision.
The fact that only split seconds separated the winner from the runner-up was the direct result of a considerable smoothing-out of the run to make it safer.
'We don't want accidents,' said one of the workers who had shaved and iced the run in the past few weeks. 'We want the Chinese and the Romanians to come down alive. The best man will always win, but the worst should not break his neck in trying.'
Even so, the bob run of St. Moritz, steeped in tradition, can hardly be considered tame. It drops 130 meters in its 1,885-meter length and contains 19 curves. One of them, the so-called horseshoe, turns at a breathtaking 180 degree angle, allowing the sleds to reach speeds of up 120 kph.
Fifth overall were the West Germans Andreas Weikenstorfer and Hans-Juergen Hartmannis in 4:44.76, with Soviets Janis Kipurs and Aiwar Shnepsts a surprisingly good sixth in 4:45.24.
The two American sleds finished 17th and 18th. Anthony Carlino and Bob Brhel were 17th in 4:50.01, followed by Robert Hickey and James Tyler in 4:50.45.