Canadian Bobsleigh Team Withdraws from World Cup in Altenberg Following Crash

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Chris Dornan

CALGARY—Canada will not compete in the Bobsleigh World Cup in Altenberg, Germany this weekend following a serious crash by Chris Spring and the Canada 2 sled during four-man training on Thursday, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton announced on Friday.

Tom De La Hunty, head coach of the Canadian Bobsleigh Team, made the decision on Friday after theAltenberg Track and FIBT officials did not make safety changes to the cornerfollowing a review of the incident on Thursday.

“This is a highly technical track that has a history of crashes,” said De La Hunty, who was told changes would be made to the corner following the crash to ensure the safety of the athletes. “I reviewed the corner this morning, and the track crew simply replaced the piece of wooden board that was damaged. Repairs to the corner were not enhanced, or done to an acceptable safety standard so there are no guarantees the same thing cannot happen again.”

“My ultimate responsibility is the health and safety of the team of athletes I represent,” said De La Hunty who added the athletes were disappointed, but agreed with the situation. “I am simply not comfortable sending them down this track under these conditions, and I am confident this is the right decision for the best interest of our entire team and national program.”

The 27-year-old Spring, of Calgary, hit the roof upon entering corner 16 due to a late entry, continued through the corner where he also made contact with the roll-over barricade on the exit of corner 16. The force and speed at which the sled was travelling, and the abrupt stop encountered, added to the significance of the crash. Three of the four members of the team sustained what was initially believed to be serious, albeit not life-threatening injuries.

Various medical personnel from the team, thetrack and various other participating nations responded immediately to the athletes care. Chris Spring was airlifted to Dresden University Hospital where he is in stable condition with a broken nose, lacerations and bruising sustained in the crash.

Bill Thomas, 26, was ground transported via ambulance to Dresden University Hospital, and has been cleared of major back injury which was originally suspected. Thomas is also recoveringfrom various bruised lungs and minor trauma. He remained with Spring in hospital overnight for observation.

Graeme Rinholm, 26, was ground transported to the local Pirna Hospital with a broken fibula, lacerations to his upper legs, buttocks and underlying musculature. He also remained in hospital overnight for observations.

Toronto’s Tim Randall, 25, sustained minor injuries, but was not seriously hurt in the incident.

“This an extremely unfortunate incident that we are taking very seriously,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “The reality is all high-performance sport has a significant element of risk to it and unfortunately sometimes these incidents occur. That being said, we have complete trust and support in Tom and our experienced staff that they are making the proper decisions to ensure the safety of our athletes.”

“Chris and his crew are world-class caliber athletes and their results to date are reflective of that. “We’re trying to keep it very positive at the moment and will continue to concentrate on their immediate health.”

Members of Canada’s bobsleigh squad plan to compete again when the World Cup travels to Konigssee, Germany, January 13-15, 2012.

Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – VISA, Dow Chemical, Adidas, KBC Helmets, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.

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