Martini finished the 2004-05 season ranked second on the World Cup behind her teammate - and eventual Torino gold medalist - Sandra Kiriasis. But the following season she lost ground to veteran teammate Susi Erdmann, who passed her in the standings to secure Germany's second Olympic spot. For the Vancouver Games, a format change allows the top two-ranked countries to send three sleds each, but in 2006 being third-best in Germany meant no Olympics. Since missing out in 2006, Martini has consistently ranked among the world's top drivers. She has won two silver medals and one bronze in the last three World Championships. She has also been remarkably steady on the World Cup, finishing each of the last three seasons ranked in the top three.
Martini started her sliding career in luge at age nine. She describes luge as a hobby in her hometown of Oberbaerenburg, a small village near Altenberg, a World Cup stop. Martini says that after several years she wasn't finding the success she wanted in luge - there were too many girls ranked ahead of her - but she didn't want to give up sports. So in 2000 she switched to bobsled. Martini says she likes bobsled better because she feels safe in the sled, adding that skeleton wasn't an option because it's "too scary." She has been a driver from day one and says she was very nervous for her first run - by the time she made it down the track she was both laughing and crying. Martini also participated in judo as a child.
Driving for two
In 2003, Martini won a world bronze medal with Yvonne Cernota as her brakeman. In 2004, the young duo finished fourth. That March, Cernota was learning how to drive on the track at Koenigssee when she made a mistake that caused her sled to crash. She was thrown from the sled and died on her way to the hospital in a helicopter. Her death was devastating for Martini. "She was my best friend - more than my brakeman. She's here," Martini says, pointing to her heart. "Before every run I look up and speak many words to her." Martini says she promised herself on the day Cernota died that she would always be a bobsled driver, but that the first runs of the following season were very hard - she was often in tears all the way down the track. "The Olympics are everybody's dream," Martini says. "The Olympics were also Yvonne's dream ... I have dreams of how it might have been sometimes."
Like many German athletes, Martini works as an officer of the federal border police. She says she doesn't have an idol but admires the qualities of many different athletes and combines them to make her own idol. In her free time she enjoys music, skiing and spending time with friends.
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.