Powered by the fastest crew on the planet, Justin Kripps piloted his Canadian four-man bobsleigh to the silver medal on Sunday at the final World Cup before the holiday break in Igls, Austria.
Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and his newly-formed crew elite multisport athletes including Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.), Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.), and Seyi Smith (Ottawa) rocked their Calgary Stampede powered sled to a second-place time of 1:42.60, and their first medal together since joining forces at the third race of the season in Whistler, B.C.
“With this crew, I know we have the starts to contend and it really shows on a starters track like Igls,” said the 30-year-old Kripps, who along with Lumsden also won the silver in Saturday’s two-man race.
“It was a great weekend for us here in Igls. The boys stepped up big in the starts and coming away with medals in both races is huge. What a great way to go into the Christmas break.”
The crew also guided Chris Spring to a bronze medal in its first race together last month in Park City.
Sitting in third spot after the first decent down the flat 14-corner track that puts an emphasis on the top of the track, Kripps took advantage of the work by the crew at the start to climb into the silver-medal position.
Lumsden, Kopacz and Smith took things to a new level in the final heat, shaving .04 off their third-ranked opening run push time to post a final heat start time at 4.96.
“What a great team effort. After pushing the third ranked start time in heat one, we knew we needed to step up, and widen the gap for heat two, and we did that,” said Lumsden. “We executed and it felt great. Silver in both races are solid results heading into the Christmas break. I’m proud of all these guys on the team, but there is still lots of work to be done.”
The Canadians were sandwiched between two German sleds on the podium.
Johannes Lochner, Marc Rademacher, Joshua Bluhm and Christian Rasp won with a time of 1:42.45. Francesco Friedrich, Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Thorsten Margis slid to the bronze medal at 1:42.65.
It was the first time in Kripps’ career as a pilot that he has won medals in both race disciplines on the same weekend.
“Getting medals in both races is great. We want to be contending in two- and four-man every race, and we are all feeling great about how we’ve performed through the first five races this year,” added Kripps.
They definitely should be.
The Canadian men’s bobsleigh program has served notice they are now a force to reckon with, providing a triple-medal threat on the World Cup.
Team Kripps has doubled his career medal count with five medals in the first half of the season, bringing his total to 10 as a pilot including his second-place two-man finish at last year’s World Championships. The silver on Sunday was just his third career four-man medal. He also won a four-man silver earlier this year in Park City with a different crew.
Calgary’s Chris Spring, who has three medals of his own this year this year, teamed up with Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.), Josh Kirkpatrick (London, Ont.) and Neville Wright (Edmonton), to place 13th on Sunday with a time of 1:43.29.
Hamilton’s Nick Poloniato, who had his first-career World Cup medal ripped from his hands following a controversial ruling by the IBSF jury in Saturday’s sled inspection, has also slid his way into podium contention in first part of the season. Poloniato and his team of Derek Plug (Calgary), Lascelles Brown (Calgary) and Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon), finished 16th at 1:43.32.
Kripps, who is leading the overall World Cup standings in the two-man, has now moved into third place in the four-man standings.