CALGARY—Kaillie Humphries and Justin Kripps both completed a golden sweep of the podium at the Canadian Bobsleigh Championships on Sunday at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
The top women’s and men’s sleds in the country captured four-man titles each one day after sliding to victory in the two-man disciplines. It was the first time an all-women’s four-man event was included at the Canadian Bobsleigh Championships.
Two-time Olympic champion, Kaillie Humphries, led the charge for the women on Sunday. Humphries and her crew of Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.), Genevieve Thibault (Quebec City), and Cynthia Appiah (Toronto) clocked a time of 1:52.83.
“It was really exciting to race four-man today. There are lots of little things we are working on and we are always learning – this is a process for us,” said Lotholz, who is a month shy of her 24th birthday. “This is something new for our great sport, and it is really a lot of fun to be a part of it.”
Lotholz and Humphries raced two- and four-man all last year during the World Cup season, breaking down barriers while competing against the men for the first time in the history of the sport. Leading the charge with Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, Humphries has been on a mission to grow women’s bobsleigh with the hopes of encouraging more women into the sport, and increasing race opportunities to better develop skills.
“It is important for our sport, and it just makes bobsleigh that much bigger – having more race opportunities and more athletes involved competing,” said Lotholz. “Just look at today versus yesterday. We have so many more girls competing. Last year doing both race disciplines pushed both Kaillie and I. Racing in back-to-back days every week, I believe helped us in our preparation for World Championships, where we race two days in a row rather than once per week.”
Sarah Monk piloted a Calgary-based crew of Andrea Kotyk, Katie Findlay and Cherie Whelan to a second-place time of 1:58.49. Calgary’s Alysia Rissling, Alycia Stewart, Sara Geganais and Kasha Lee were disqualified in the second run when one athlete did not get into the sled off the start.
Justin Kripps also slid to his second-straight gold medal on the weekend. The 29-year-old pilot from Summerland, B.C. punched the clock at 1:48.93 in the men’s race.
Kripps was sliding with a crew of Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon), Josh Kirkpatrick (Calgary, and Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.).
“It was a pretty good day for all of the four-man crews,” said the 29-year-old Coakwell. “ We have some guys that took time away that are now back in our program. This time of year is all about refining those roles as a four-man crew. Today was the first major test for our crew, and it was great to race in Calgary. We’ve raced here so many times so we get a really good feel with our loads, where we are at, and will know if we’ll be competitive on the world stage.”
Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato continues to raise some eyebrows in the early season selection races with a second-place performance in the four-man race. Poloniato and his crew of Tim Randall (Burlington, Ont.), Derek Plug (Calgary), and Kennan McDougall (Saskatoon) slid to the silver medal with a time of 1:49.35.
Two-time Olympian, Chris Spring of Calgary, led this crew to a third-place finish at 1:49.52. Team Spring included Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.), Lascelles Brown (Calgary) and Neville Wright (Edmonton).
Canada’s bobsleigh athletes will be back in action, November 11, for a North America’s Cup race at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park.