WHISTLER, B.C.—The nation’s fastest athletes on ice in the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton will be sporting new duds on the track to 2018, thanks to a new partnership established with Karbon and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton on Wednesday.
The governing body for the two sliding sports in Canada named a total of 18 bobsleigh and six skeleton athletes who will be sporting the Karbon clothing on the World Cup circuit this season which opens in Whistler, B.C., December 2-3.
“Our team goals are completely clear – to win medals – and it is exciting to have a Canadian company, who also prides itself on excellence, put the clothes on the backs of our athletes in their drive to the podium,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton who officially named its new clothing partner and 2017 World Cup squad prior to the team joining media for a back-country ATV trip through British Columbia’s spectacular Callaghan Valley.
A longtime supporter of Canada’s sport community, Karbon will supply Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton with all competition and outerwear for its national program through the 2018 season.
“There is nothing that gives me more pleasure, while representing a Canadian company, than putting the clothes on the backs of Canadian athletes from the grassroots to elite levels,” said Peter Schure, Karbon. “No different than the elite athletes we support, Karbon too is focused on performance. At Karbon, we know there are no limits as to what is possible when working together as a team, and we only hope to play a small role in fueling the drive towards delivering medal-winning performances for Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes.”
With just 441 days remaining until the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s athletes will be on mission for medals while traveling the globe over the next two seasons.
Of the 24 athletes representing Canada in the two sports, 13 have reached the Olympic World Championship or World Cup podium throughout their career.
“The depth in our program has grown significantly over the last three years. Led by a number of veterans that have delivered under the most intense pressure, we now also have a group of dynamic youngsters that have re-energized the program and are poised to make their mark internationally,” said Le Bihan. “All of our athletes have proven they have what it takes to continue delivering medal-winning performances.”
Canada will field a full line up of three men and three women on the skeleton start list this year. Three of the most explosive starters in the world will make up the women’s team which includes multiple World Cup medallist, Elisabeth Vathje (Calgary), along with Jane Channell (North Vancouver) who cracked the podium for the first time last year. Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva will also make her debut on the World Cup squad.
Two veterans and a rookie will also make up the men’s skeleton team. Barrett Martineau (Calgary) will look to push his way into the top-five this year along with Dave Greszczyszyn (Brampton, Ont.). Kevin Boyer (Calgary) will gain valuable experience competing in his first season on the World Cup.
A high-powered group of brakemen will push four Canadian pilots full-time on the World Cup this year.
Two-time Olympic gold-medallist, Kaillie Humphries, will pilot Canada’s lone women’s sled. The 31-year-old Calgarian, celebrated four victories, two silvers and two bronze medals on the World Cup with Melissa Lotholz, of Barrhead, Alta., last year before the duo slid to the silver at the World Championships. Humphries will once again have Lotholz and Toronto’s Cynthia Appiah, who was part of her all-women’s winning four-man crew at last year’s World Championships exhibition event, on her brakes.
Canada will field two veteran men’s sleds piloted by Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and Calgary’s Chris Spring in men’s bobsleigh action. Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato, who has been capturing the nation’s attention during selection races this fall, also earned a full-time sled on the elite circuit.
Kripps is a two-time Olympian and winner of three World Cup medals as a pilot, while Spring has three World Cup medals – all coming on Canadian ice, including on World Cup victory which came last year in Whistler with Lascelles Brown.
The three Canadian pilots will have a deep crew of brakemen to work with including the return of Olympic heavyweights, Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.) and Neville Wright (Edmonton). Ten other athletes will help provide the manpower for the Canadian sleds including: Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.); Olympian Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon); Calgarians Josh Kirkpatrick, Derek Plug, Dan Sunderland and two-time Olympic medallist Lascelles Brown; Olympian Tim Randall (Burlington, Ont.); Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.); along with CFL players Sam Giguere (Sherbrooke, Que.), and newcomer Keenan MacDougall (Saskatoon).
Alysia Rissling (Edmonton) and Christine De Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.), will also pilot women’s sleds for the World Cup opener at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
The 2017 World Championships are set for February 11-26 in Sochi, Russia. Canada’s top bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will get their first taste of the Olympic Track in Pyeongchang during a World Cup slated for March 13-19.