(ISN) – CALGARY—Dave Greszczyszyn successfully defended his men’s national skeleton title, while Justin Kripps completed a golden sweep of the bobsleigh podium at the Canadian Bobsleigh and Skeleton Championships at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary on Sunday.
A substitute teacher with the Calgary Board of Education, the 35-year-old Greszczyszyn put away the school books and hopped onto his cafeteria tray on runners where he clocked the two fastest times of the day to win his second straight Canadian Championship title. The Brampton, Ont. native posted a combined time of 1:59.84 on the 1,500-metre Olympic Track.
“The first run I was a bit slow on the push maybe because it was the first race of year and I had some race jitters, but I did have a decent down time,” said the man they call “The Griz.”
“I knew I had to dig deep for the second run because it was really close. I felt really relaxed from the start and had a much better push. I just let the sled do as little as possible down the track.”
Two Calgarians snagged the final two spots on the men’s skeleton podium. Barrett Martineau slid to the silver medal with a time of 2:00.63, while Greg Rafter bolted into the bronze medal position on the podium after clocking-in at 2:00.66.
Greszczyszyn first captured the nation’s attention in the sliding sports last year where he took down many of Canada’s best including Olympians Eric Neilson, Jon Montgomery, Mike Douglas and John Fairbairn to win the Canadian Championships. After making an impressive World Cup debut in sixth spot on the Calgary track one year ago, The Griz split his time on the World Cup and Intercontinental Cup circuits before coming up short in his quest to qualify to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“Every year it is competitive out here. With all those big names now retiring, I feel I have to move up and take that senior role. I guess I’m the one the guys are chasing now. I learned a lot from those other guys, and I hope I can pass some things on to this new batch of people in the program,” added Greszczyszyn.
Another Canadian who emerged into one of the best in the country last year was 27-year-old bobsleigh pilot, Justin Kripps.
The Summerland, B.C. native completed a golden sweep of the Canadian Bobsleigh Championships on Sunday night. Fresh off his two-man victory Saturday, Kripps and his crew of Calgary’s Lascelles Brown, Saskatoon’s Ben Coakwell, and Edmonton’s Bryan Barnett captured their first ever four-man title with a two-run time of 1:50.91.
“I think I won a national title while I was a brakeman with Pierre Lueders’ team, but this definitely means a little more since it is my first as a pilot,” said Kripps, who added Toronto’s Tim Randall is the fifth member of his squad but was sidelined with an injury. “It was a good night. The guys pushed really well and this is a good start to the season for sure.”
Chris Spring and his newly-formed crew of Alex Kopacz, Josh Kirkpatrick and Derek Plug teamed up to win the silver medal for the second straight night. Team Spring clocked a time of 1:51.37.
Two-time women’s Olympic gold medallist, Kaillie Humphries, officially began her quest to compete with the men on the World Cup this year by starting her first ever four-man race. Calgary’s Humphries and her crew of Dan Dale, Joey Nemet and DJ MccLelland posted the third fastest time in each of her two bombs down the 14-corner track in Calgary to claim the bronze at 1:52.10.
“It feels pretty good. I have a great group of guys that support me and we’ve been working very hard on team dynamics and cohesiveness,” said Humphries, who was taking just her fifth and sixth runs on a four-man sled. “We have a lot of new faces so we are learning together. I’ve been around for four-man races before helping the guys at the top, but it is definitely different getting into a sled. I’m in this to win. The ultimate goal is four years from now so there are a number of steps we need to take together including qualifying for the World Cup, but overall this was a good first step and fun.”