KONIGSSEE, Ger.—Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden delivered when it counted most, winning the two-man silver medal at the BMW Bobsleigh World Championships on Sunday in Konigssee, Germany.
“It is a huge, huge day for Jesse and I,” said the 30-year-old Kripps who hails from Summerland, B.C. “It is awesome for us to have this result at the right time. My first World Championship medal at my favourite track!”
Struggling all season to get the sled firing on all cylinders, the Canadian duo put down the second fastest run in the first of four-heats and never looked back over the two-day race where they clocked a combined time of 3:17.91 to secure their spot on the poidum.
“It’s a big day,” said Lumsden while sipping a celebratory cold one in a local German tavern following the silver-medal triumph.
“Consistency is king. The start, the drive – it is all about consistency. It feels great. I’m just in a pub by myself having a beer soaking it all in and I couldn’t be happier.”
Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis blasted the field, putting the fastest down times in each of the four heats to finish with a golden time of 3:16.71. Germany’s Johannes Lochner and Joshua Bluhm were third at 3:17.96.
“Friedrich is sliding in a world of his own right now, but it is a real fight out here for second and third place,” added Lumsden, who also pushed Lyndon Rush to a two-man silver medal at the 2012 World Championships. Rush, an Olympic bronze medallist in the four-man competition, is now part of the Canadian Team’s coaching staff and was trackside in Konigssee.
“We started in 11th spot yesterday and came out swinging right of the gate. Our pushes were better and Justin had four of the most consistent runs he has had all year,” added Lumsden, of Burlington, Ont.
Aside from a silver-medal win in Lake Placid prior to the Christmas break, the Canadian duo have struggled to meet expectations since the return of Lumsden into the top Canadian sled. The former CFL star running back took the last two years off from sport to rest his body, and gain experience working in the corporate world.
“It is a bit of a relief. You don’t feel pressure but when you aren’t performing you start to question yourself as athletes, and if you have done the work needed to be the best,” said Lumsden, who adds he and Kripps both need to find fractions of a second in the gym this summer for the start. “I think the recent rule changes by the IBSF (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation) exposed a few teams that were doing things they shouldn’t have been and that has made a difference in leveling the playing field.”
The IBSF made a change with regards to a sandpaper protocol that is done by officials on each of the sled runners prior to the race. In the first race under the new rules, the Canadians were back in podium contention with a fifth-place finish in Igls, Austria two weeks ago.
“This result isn’t a surprise to me after the material control change. I always believed it would be a more fair race and we’d be back in it with that change,” said Kripps.
They certainly were.
On Sunday, they were back on the podium in what they refer to as a home-away-from home.
“I need to thank everybody who stayed behind us and have supported us. It was a pretty dismal season, but we kept each other positive, kept working hard and knew if we kept pushing and driving we’d eventually be back it in,” said Kripps, who now has five career medals on the elite circuit with three of them coming in Konigssee.
“We managed to turn things around and got it done when it counts.”
His first career victory came on the Bavarian track prior to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. He also won a two-man bronze in 2015 on the 16-corner icy chute in Konigssee. In addition to his two-man silver this year in Lake Placid, Kripps also captured a four-man bronze on the American track last year.
“I have quite a history here, and really love Konigssee,” added Kripps. “It’s amazing to come down and win a medal, but it is even sweeter at the World Championships.”
Another Canadian men’s sled, driven by rookie pilot Nick Poloniato of Hamilton, captured the world’s attention this weekend. The Burlington, Ont. native was sitting in fourth spot after the first two runs with Edmonton’s Neville Wright.
When the last of the 36-sled field crossed the finish line on Sunday, the 29-year-old rocketed to a stellar fifth-place finish in his first World Championships with a time of 3:18.23. Poloniato and Wright posted the third fastest down times in both the second and fourth heats.
Calgary’s Chris Spring and Alex Kopacz, of London, Ont., slid to 13th place with a time of 3:18.75.
The World Championships resume in Konigssee, Germany on February 24h with the skeleton races.