—Canadians sweep men’s and women’s bobsleigh gold in Whistler—
WHISTLER, B.C.—Chris Spring and Lascelles Brown capped off a golden Saturday for Canada’s bobsleigh program after winning the men’s two-man competition at the IBSF BMW World Cup in Whistler.
Sitting in second spot after the opening bomb down the 1,450-metre Whistler Sliding Centre track, the Calgary-based duo came from behind to clock a two-run time of 1:42.76 for the victory.
“It has been a long time since I was even in the top-six so doing that yesterday (he was fifth) was good to feel that again,” said Spring, whose best two-man finish this year before the weekend was 12th in Lake Placid.
“I know coming into this race I’m one of the best drivers in the world on this track, and if we have the start we did then I had the confidence knowing I can win the race and we showed that today.”
The Latvian team of Ugis Zalims and Intars Dambis moved into the silver medal position with a time of 1:42.96. First-run leaders Alexander Kasjanov and Aleksei Pushkarev dropped to the bronze medal position for the second straight day with a time of 1:43.00.
Canada’s Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.) and Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.) were in third position after the opening run, but dropped to fifth when all was said and done after clocking-in at 1:43.09.
It is the third career World Cup medal for Spring. His first World Cup medal came in the four-man race the last time the World Cup was held in Whistler in 2012 when he was third. His only other two-man medal was also a bronze when he and Jesse Lumsden slid onto the podium in Calgary during the 2013-14 season.
Spring joined up with the 41-year-old Brown following the Christmas break. Brown has been competing part-time on the national program while raising a family and working.
“I honestly think the credit needs to go to Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton for this. They have given me this opportunity to work around my schedule and still compete,” said Brown. “I love this kid Spring. I know this kid can drive. He is one of the better drivers out here. I told him yesterday we’d win today and I called it right.”
It has been a long road back to the top for the Australian-born Spring who became a Canadian citizen just over two years ago. Laying in a hospital bed four years ago after a horrific crash in Altenberg that put an end to his season, Spring wasn’t even sure if he’d ever slide again at the time. It was an experience that has put dealt him a rollercoaster of emotions throughout his career.
“What happened on January 5, 2012 I don’t wish upon anyone. It is something I struggle with every day of my career. I don’t hide that. I share it with a lot of people,” said Spring. “There is a bigger picture in life, and bobsleigh is not everything. I take a lot of comfort moving forward with that. Coming out here with Lascelles today, and being a winner – there is no better feeling than being victorious on your home track.”
Spring started driving with the Australian program in 2007. Never did he thought he’d have an opportunity to team up with one of the most successful brakemen the sport has ever witnessed in Lascelles Brown who has two Olympic medals and countless World Championship and World Cup podiums on his mantle.
“I always remember starting this sport and training in a small gym in Calgary where I’d see Lascelles training. I always looked up to this guy and seeing what a beast he is. Just having such a powerhouse like (Lascelles) that brings so much to the table behind me is so important. The confidence he has in me gives me the confidence to win medals.”
It was the ending to a solid weekend for Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes as the World Cup returned to the Whistler Sliding Centre for the first time in three years. Earlier in the day, Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz won gold in women’s bobsleigh, while Dave Greszczyszyn and Barrett Martineau chalked up career-best finishes in men’s skeleton finishing fifth and eighth. Jane Channell kicked the weekend off by setting a new start record in Whistler en route to a fourth-place finish in women’s skeleton.
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 –– BMW Canada, Conceptum Sport Logistics – along with the Government of Canada, and Own the Podium. Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions.