Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz Match Season Best Two-Man in Fourth, Jane Channell slides to sixth in women’s skeleton—
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—Racing with heavy hearts following the recent passing of their original driving coach, Kaillie Humphries teamed up with Melissa Lotholz to win the silver medal, while Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz matched their season best finish in fourth, on a bobsleigh track where it all began in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Calgary’s Humphries and her brakeman, Lotholz of Barrhead, Alta., extended their podium streak to four this year by claiming the silver with a two-run time of 1:53.91. The Alberta duo also has two gold’s and a bronze in the four World Cup starts.
“It was great to get back in the rhythm and swing of things after the break. Our timing was a bit off for Melissa and I in the first run but we cleaned it up on the second run and are very happy with things overall,” said Humphries. “We knew it was going to be a tough race. Jamie is a great driver and the Americans proved they know how to drive this track. They had a great day so that was the difference.”
The American team of Jamie Greubel Poser and Charrelle Garrett slid to their second victory of the season. The Americans clocked a winning time of 1:53.48. Austria’s Christina Hengster and Sanne Monique Dekker captured the bronze with a time of 1:54.30.
It was an extra special trip to the podium for the 30-year-old Humphries following the unfortunate passing of Malcolm “Gomer” Lloyd five days ago. An internationally renowned bobsleigh coach, head coach of the Korean Bobsleigh Team over the last two years, and the former coach of the Canadian program in 2006, Gomer continued to reside in Calgary with his family and taught Humphries how to drive in Lake Placid in March 2006.
“Looking back at all the videos and stories from everyone this week, it has been very hard on all of us. He was a familiar face that affected all of the athletes and coaches regardless of what nation you are from so it is hard,” said Humphries. “Gomer was the one who brought me down here to drive in Placid. It may sound ridiculous, but even today when I get nervous or panicky, I always think back to coming here with Gomer that first time and what he told me ‘Look where you are going!’ It calms me down every time.
“It is so sad he is not here with us. He was so instrumental for getting women’s bobsleigh started and it would have been cool for him to see us women race the four-man tomorrow. I owe a huge portion of my success in bobsleigh to Gomer and will never forget him.”
It was the fifth career World Cup medal for Humphries on the punishing 1,455-metre icy chute, which meanders its way down Mount Van Hoevenberg in the Adirondacks. She also has two victories and two bronze medals in Lake Placid. It is the first podium for Lotholz in Lake Placid.
“Lake Placid is such a difficult track. The corners all link together. The tack is very whippy so you have to be on your ‘A’ game. You have to anticipate what is going to happen, and know where you are all the time or you will crash. There is a reason Gomer taught me to drive here. It is a huge advantage of learning how to become an actual driver, and that is why I love coming back here every year.”
Lotholz, Genevieve Thibault, of Quebec City, and Toronto’s Cynthia Appiah will make history on Saturday when they join Humphries as the first all-women’s four-man squad to start a World Cup race.
Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz Match Season Best Fourth in Men’s Two-Man
Looking to pull off his first medal performance of the season in honour of “Gomer,” Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz matched their season-best performance on the World Cup with a fourth-place outing in the men’s two-man race.
Two days after celebrating his 29th birthday, Kripps of Summerland, B.C, and Kopacz (London, Ont.) were on track to win the bronze after posting the fastest start time and third fastest trip on the opening run. The Canadian duo dropped one spot in their final descent down the track despite another strong push, to finish in fourth place with a time of 1:51.30.
“It was a great start of the New Year. The pushes were great and it is a sign that Alex and I are really coming together as a team,” said Kripps. “I think it is just a matter of practicing and gaining racing experience together that is making the difference. We have had a lot of training together now and really hitting the sled off the start at the right time. I’m optimistic for the rest of the season.”
The Canadians were nudged off the podium by Gomer’s Korean squad of Yunjong Won and Youngwoo who have been shocking the world this year by regularly sliding onto the podium. The Koreans wrapped up an emotional day in the bobsleigh world while posting a bronze-medal time of 1:51.12.
Steven Holcomb and Carlo Valdes completed the golden sweep for the Americans in Lake Placid after posting the fastest two-run time of 1:51.00. Germany’s Nico Walther and Christian Poser won the silver with a time of 1:51.11.
It was also an emotional day for Kripps. The soft-spoken Canadian also took time to reflect on the first time he jumped into the pilot seat in Lake Placid while taking a Bobsleigh Driver’s School led by “Gomer” following the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
“It was obviously extremely sad for me to hear Gomer passed away, but I think it is fitting we are down here in Lake Placid where we are trying to turn this into a happy thing by remembering all of the positive things he has done for the sport. When you stop and think about what Gomer has done for bobsleigh you can’t help but smile.
“For me personally, he was the head coach when I came into the program in 2006. Coming from track and field, he taught me to be tough, how to shake things off and really how to ‘man up’ because bobsleigh is not an easy world when you are getting bashed around all the time. I’ll take Gomer’s early advice with me for the rest of my career.”
Calgarians Chris Spring and Lascelles Brown teamed up for their first race together this year to finish 12th. Clocking a time of 1:51.58, it was the best result for Spring this season.
Jane Channell Solid in Sixth in Women’s Skeleton Race
Jane Channell rebounded after a challenging first run to post a solid-sixth place finish in her first World Cup start on the challenging Lake Placid track in women’s skeleton.
The 27-year-old North Vancouver resident looked to build on a solid European start to the World Cup circuit where she slid to her first career podium in the next block of races in North American.
Sitting in ninth after a sloppy first run in Placid, Channell dug deep to climb three spots in the standings when the dust finally settled to sixth with a time of 1:51.27.
“Overall I know I could have done better today, but I have to be happy. My first run was just not good. I was hitting walls and skidding all over the place but luckily for my start it gave me a bit of a buffer,” said Channell.
“I was able to clean up a lot of the areas that I had problems with in my second run. Lake Placid is a tricky track. It’s very technical so run volume helps with understanding all the ins and outs of it. We were getting more comfortable as the week went on but even still I would love to have more time here to really zone in on it.”
Channell has been dialed in on her first full season on the World Cup circuit. The legacy baby from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games made her way onto the World Cup after Christmas one year ago where she eventually finished fourth at World Championships. She has been a model of consistency in just four races this year. In addition to winning a bronze medal she’s been a regular with the top seven each week.
“I feel like I’m a contender, but I know in order to keep it that way, I need to get more consistent,” added Channell. “I can’t have one bad run and one good run, I need to have two good runs. I know that consistency will come as I gain confidence in my sliding abilities on the tracks and my sled.”
Calgary’s Elisabeth Vathje, who won the silver medal in Lake Placid last year in her first-ever World Cup race, is also looking for more consistency at the midway point of the season. Vathje finished 12th on Friday with a time of 1:51.95.
American Anne O’Shea thrilled the hometown crowd with a golden time of 1:50.34. Switzerland’s Marina Gilardoni was second at 1:50.43, while Laura Deas, of Great Britain, dropped from first in the opening run to the bronze-medal position after clocking a two-run time of 1:50.59.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. with the men’s skeleton and four-man bobsleigh races.
Top-Five Women’s Bobsleigh Results:
1. Jamie Greubel Poser/Charrelle Garrett, USA, 1:53.48; 2. Kaillie Humphries, Calgary/Melissa Lotholz, Barrhead, Alta., CAN, 1:53.91; 3. Christina Hengster/Sanne Monique Dekker, AUT, 1:54.30; 4. Elfje Willemsen/Sophie Vercruyssen, BEL, 1:54.43; 5. Anja Schneiderheinze/Erline Nolte, GER, 1:54.49
Top-Five Men’s Two-Man Bobsleigh Results:
1. Steven Holcomb/Carlo Valdes, USA, 1:51.00; 2. Nico Walther/Christian Poser, GER, 1:51.11; 3. Yunjong Won/Youngwoo Seo, KOR, 1:51.12; 4. Justin Kripps, Summerland, B.C./Alex Kopacz, London, Ont., CAN, 1:51.30; 5. Ugis Zalims/Intars Dambis, LAT, 1:51.41
Other Canadian Results:
12. Chris Spring, Calgary/Lascelles Brown, Calgary, 1:51.58
Top-Five Women’s Skeleton Results:
1. Anne O’Shea, USA, 1:50.34; 2. Marina Gilardoni, SUI, 1:50.43; 3. Laura Deas, GBR, 1:50.59; 4. Tina Hermann, GER, 1:51.17; 5. Janine Flock, AUT, 1:51.23
6. Jane Channell, North Vancouver, 1:51.27; 12. Elisabeth Vathje, Calgary, 1:51.95