(ISN) – WINTERBERG, Ger.—A team of medal-winning Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes made a charge for the podium, but came up short, finishing fourth in the team event at the World Championships in Winterberg, Germany on Sunday.
The team relay consists of one men’s and one women’s skeleton sled, along with one two-man and women’s bobsleigh. Each sled takes one bomb down the track. All times are combined to determine the overall placing.
The Canucks included Dave Greszczyszyn (Burlington, Ont.), and three-time medal winning rookie in women’s skeleton Elisabeth Vathje of Calgary leading the way for the nation’s only two podium bobsleighs this year. Calgary’s Kaillie Humphries and Kate O’Brien tore down the track in the women’s sled, while Justin Kripps teamed up with Alex Kopacz, of London, Ont. in the men’s sled.
Kripps and Kopacz posted the second fastest time in the anchor position to lead position the Canadians into fourth place with a time of 3:50.01.
“The team race was fun. The format is great and it presents an awesome atmosphere,” said Kripps, who was less than pleased with his two-man race. “I was very frustrated this weekend, but was fun to do the team event.”
The Germans grabbed the top-two spots on the team event podium. Germany 1 was 3:48.83, while Germany 2 posted a combined time of 349.27. The Russias rallied for the bronze medal with a time of 3:49.36.
The team result was sweet redemption for Kripps on a difficult two days of racing for Canada’s men’s two-man bobsleigh athletes at the World Championships in Winterberg, Germany where Nick Poloniato and Bryan Barnett were the lone bright spot for the Canucks.
Making his debut at the World Championships as a pilot, Hamilton’s Poloniato teamed up with Edmonton’s Barnett to finish in 16th spot with a four-run time of 3:46.09. Similar to the Olympic race format, the World Championships consist of four runs held over two days.
Canada’s two veteran sleds struggled on a race that was decided largely by start position due to heavy snowfall on the opening day and track conditions. Calgarians, Chris Spring and Derek Plug, slid to 18th at 3:46.68, while Just Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and Calgary’s Lascelles Brown, did not qualify for the final run, placing 21st.
“We were consistently one of the fastest sleds in training all week, and then impossibly slow in the two-man race, and fast again in the team race,” said Kripps. “To me it is clear the home team was tampering with the ice. Any sled that was close to a German sled in the order was fast regardless of the drive. Others, like myself, were ridiculously slow even with the fast starts and clean drives. It was too obvious, blatant and dishonest.”
“It makes me question the integrity of the sport when a host nation can blatantly cheat and nothing is done to make this race fair,” added Spring. “Kripps, Nick, and I should be extremely happy with our performance this weekend. But it’s tough to feel this way when the results don’t reflect the way we performed.”
Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis won the men’s two-man title on their home track with a time of 3:43.30. Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens locked up the silver medal with a time of 3:44.36. Germany’s Johannes Lochner and Joshua Bluhm rounded out the podium in third place with a time of 3:44.36.