Canadian Bobsledders Struggle on Messy Two-Man Day


Chris Dornan

(ISN) – ST. MORITZ, Sui.—Excited to race at the birthplace of the sport in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Canada’s bobsleigh athletes simply were not able to respond and suffered through a challenging day on Saturday.

Calgarians Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz finished seventh in the women’s race. Chris Spring (Calgary) and Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.) slid to 17th while Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.) and Bryan Barnett (Edmonton) were 19th in the men’s two-man race.

“It was just a tough day at the office,” said Tom De La Hunty, coach, Canadian Bobsleigh Team. “One of the worst days for our team on a whole I think since I got here.”

It was a day of failed gambles and bad draw positions that got the best of the Canucks on the 1,700-metre naturally-refrigerated track.

Humphries was flying during training, but tried a new set of runners on Saturday that didn’t work out. Humprhies and Lotholz clocked a time of 2:16.27.

“It is hard to know exactly what happened today in the women’s race,” said De La Hunty. “Kaillie did make a couple of mistakes and then just lost her speed, but her runners didn’t work out.”

Germany’s Anja Schneiderheinze and Annika Drazek clocked a golden time of 2:15.29. Cathleen Martini and Franziska Bertels, also of Germany, were second at 2:15.60. Jamie Greubel Poser and Cherrelle Garrett slid to the bronze medal at 2:15.86.

The challenges continued for the Canadians into the men’s race. Chris Spring and Alex Kopacz were the top Canadians in 17th at 2:14.15.

Justin Kripps and Bryan Barnett got the bad side of the draw. A track that notoriously gets faster as the race progresses, Team Kripps drew second off, contributing to their 19th place finish at 2:14.53.

“The guys made some mistakes and there are no excuses, but this is a track that everyone knows speeds up all the time and gets quicker as the day goes on,” said De La Hunty. “Some of the sleds were laid out in the sun before the race and others, like Kripps, were in the shape so they were already six degrees colder at the start than those in the sun which is a disadvantage. It was a mess all around today.”

Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens won the men’s race with a time of 2:12.23. Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann thrilled the hometown crowd after sliding to a tie for the silver-medal time with Latvia’s Ugis Zalims and Intars Dambis. Both teams finished in a dead heat at 2:12.40.

Canada’s three sleds will look to bounce back on Sunday during the four-man bobsleigh races.

Top-Five Women’ and Canadian Results:
1. Anja Schneiderheinze/Annika Drazek, GER, 2:15.29; 2. Cathleen Martini/Franziska Bertels, GER, 2:15.60; 3. Jamie Greubel Poser/Cherrelle Garrett, USA, 2:15.86; 4. Elana Meyers Taylor/Lauryn Williams, USA, 2:15.92; 5. Elfje Willemsen/Annelies Holhof, BEL, 2:16.06
Canadian Results:
7. Kaillie Humphries, Calgary/Melissa Lotholz, Calgary, 2:16.27

Top-Five Men’s Two-Man Bobsleigh Results:
1. Oskars Melbardis/Daumants Dreiskens, LAT, 2:12.23; T2. Beat Hefti/Alex Baumann, SUI, 2:12.40; T2. Ugis Zalims/Itars Dambis, LAT, 2:12.40; 4. Francesco Friedrich/Thorsten Margis, GER, 2:12.85; 5. Johannes Locher/Joshua Bluhm, GER, 2:12.85
Canadian Results:
17. Chris Spring, Calgary/Alex Kopacz, London, Ont., 2:14.15; 19. Justin Kripps, Summerland, B.C./Bryan Barnett, Edmonton, 2:14.53