ST. MORITZ, Switzerland -- Swiss pilot Gustav Weder fought off a strong bid by two East German sleds Sunday to win the World Two Man Bobsleighing Championships.
The 28-year-old Swiss pilot, with Bruno Gerber as his brakeman, won three of four heats for an aggregate time of 4 minutes, 19.90 seconds.
Second was East German rookie Harald Czudaj, while reigning world champion Wolfgang Hoppe, also of East Germany, finished third.
In fourth place was Sintis Ekmanis of the Soviet Union, who posted the fastest time in the fourth heat but was edged out of third place by .19 of a second.
'I knew we had it in the bag after the third heat,' Weder said. 'A year ago in Cortina, I had the title in sight but lost it on the second day to Hoppe. I concentrated hard so that would not happen again.'
Hoppe looked disgusted in the medal ceremony and darkly hinted that he might retire because of differences with his coach. It was an open secret that head coach Horst Hoernlein had provided Czudai with the better set of runners.
'It was a decision by the coach, and I have to live with it for the next few years -- or maybe not,' said the 33-year-old Hoppe, a two-time Olympic and five-time world champion.
Under the brilliant sunshine illuminating the peaks of the Engadin valley, Weder set a track record, covering the first run of the 1,585-meter ice chute in 1:04.80 for an average speed of 55 miles per hour. He also set a push record with 5.04 seconds for the first 50 meters on the final heat.
Greg Haydenluck, a teacher from Toronto, was the highest placed North American, finishing in seventh place.
'Unfortunately, he slipped by one spot on the second day, but he proved he is one of the very best pilots now,' said Haydenluck's Swiss coach Hans Hiltebrand, a former world champion. 'Our next project is to improve at the start.'
One of the most illustrious competitors, Prince Albert of Monaco, finished 21st overall. He had his most troublesome moment when a 20-year-old Italian fan named Raffaela Rossi broke through the barriers, presumably to embrace him. It took four men to carry her out of the finish area.