(ISN) – CALGARY—Canada’s top four-man bobsleigh piloted by Justin Kripps appears to be firing on all cylinders after handily winning the gold medal in a final tune-up race on Sunday prior to the start of the World Cup season.
The 27-year-old Olympian captured top spot on the podium in the first race of a four-man double-header at the North America’s Cup race that took place at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and his crew of Edmonton’s Bryan Barnett, Saskatoon’s Ben Coakwell, and Tim Randall, of Burlington, Ont., clocked the fastest runs at 54:73 and 54:92 on each of his two blasts down the 14-corner track for a winning time of 1:49.65.
“It was good today. I have some new crew members this year, and some are pushing from different spots so we are just continuing to work on our starts together,” said Kripps. “We have a few things to tweak on equipment, but I think we are ready to go now for the World Cup. The goal this year is multiple podiums and to get my first medal in four-man.”
The reigning Canadian champion, who did not compete in the second race Sunday, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014 where he won his first World Cup two-man race in Konigssee, Germany just weeks before driving in his first Olympic Games. Kripps also represented Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he was a member of Pierre Lueders’ four-man crew.
While Team Kripps celebrated the gold, it was Team Humphries who stole the spotlight in the front end of the double-header.
Canada’s two-time women’s Olympic gold medallist, Kaillie Humphries, continued her quest to compete with the men on the World Cup this year by winning her first medal in the four-man event.
Sitting in fourth spot after the first of two runs in the first race of the day, Calgary’s Humphries and her crew of Dan Dale (Edmonton), Joey Nemet (Burlington, Ont.) and DJ McClelland (Calgary) took advantage of their best-ever push times at 5.29 to climb onto the silver medal position of the podium after stopping the clock at 1:50.50.
“I’m really proud of the guys today. That was a personal best start and then we matched it again on the second run,” said Humphries. “I tweaked my hamstring earlier this week so that was all the guys. They really stepped it up and were great today!”
Joining Humphries on the podium was the 2014 Olympic silver medallist in women’s bobsleigh, Elana Meyers Taylor from the United States, who along with her crew of Dustin Greenwood, Adrian Adams, and Carlo Valdes, locked up the bronze with a two-run time of 1:50.66 in the morning race.
Friends off the track, Humphries and Meyers Taylor have been chasing history this fall to be the first women to compete with the men in a World Cup four-man bobsleigh race, thanks to a new ruling by the FIBT that allows women to compete with the men, providing bobsleigh federations with increased race opportunities and experiences for their athletes – a move Humphries has been campaigning for with the support of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton over the last two years in hopes of growing the sliding sport for women.
The top-two women bobsleigh pilots in the world were competing in their third and fourth of five planned four-man races on three different tracks – a safety requirement set by the FIBT before any athlete is permitted to start on the World Cup. Humphries and Meyers Taylor competed in their first two races last weekend in Park City, and will now head to La Plagne, France to complete the qualification journey in two weeks time. Humphries will most likely make her World Cup four-man debut on her home track in Calgary, December 16-20, 2014.
“Driving is driving so once you learn to do it you don’t forget that,” said Humphries. “The four-man is so fun. There is more weight and you can’t really play with the sled and correct mistakes like I can in the two-man. It is all a learning process for me and it will make me a better two-man driver for sure. This is new for all of us, but my team and I know what this all means. We just want to go out, do our best, grow as a team and keep knocking spots off.”
Humphries has completely rewritten the record books over the last four years where she became the first Canadian woman to not only win two Olympic titles, but also two World Championship crowns in the sport. Along the way she also set a new record for wins-in-a-row at nine, and went on to reach the podium in 15 straight races – 11 of them victories.
Meanwhile, Meyers Taylor and her American crew were sitting in the gold medal position after the opening run of the afternoon race, but dropped a spot to finish second at 1:50.72.
Humphries piloted the top Canadian sled in race two to settle for a tie for fourth place with a time of 1:51.87.
The Great Britain crew of Lamin Deen, Keith McLaughlin, Justin Oro-Campos, and Andrew Matthews won the second race with a time of 1:50.52. American’s Codie Bascue, Kris Enslen, David Cremin, and Trevor Christianson snagged the bronze at 1:50.84.
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 – Adidas, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, BMW Canada, The Globe and Mail, Conceptum Sport Logistics, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and SAIT Polytechnic. Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions.