Alysia Rissling and Heather Moyse broke through with their top result of the season, while Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden came up just short of another podium finish – both sleds finished fourth in women’s and men’s World Cup bobsleigh action on Saturday in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Rissling, a 29-year-old Next Generation pilot, and Moyse, chalked up their best result in just four races together after finishing with a two-run time of 2:16.07 on the world’s only non-refrigerated track.
“It feels great to finally have a good finish,” said Rissling. “I was so happy with my drives today, and we executed a new program at the start. It’s great knowing that when I string together consistent pushes, and drives, the results will be there.”
It was the best result for Edmonton’s Rissling since winning a bronze medal at the final World Cup race of her rookie season last year in PyeongChang. This fall, the former varsity basketball player at the University of Alberta teamed up with two-time Olympic gold medallist, Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., to bring additional experience in the sled for her first run to the Olympic Winter Games. It has taken time for the second-year pilot and veteran brakeman to click in their drive to the podium.
“The start hasn’t been where we want it to be so we switched techniques for this race. We only got to practice the technique once in training so it still needs some work,” said Rissling. “We are both confident we can continue to build a much faster push in the next five weeks.
“We are really starting to gel. Heather’s challenging me in such a positive way in the way I prepare, and execute a race. There was lots of distractions this week, but Heather challenged me to focus solely on the task at hand. That was the difference today. We are embracing the progression, and continue to build each race.”
The Canadian duo were poised to pounce onto the podium for the first time together, sitting in third spot after their first rip down the 1,700-metres of stunning natural ice at the birthplace of the sport. Posting the eighth-fastest start times in each heat, the Canucks dropped one spot into fourth when all was said and done.
“Being so close to the podium at this point in the season is a good reflection of the progression we have been making as a team,” said Moyse, who added the duo have been making positive headway each week. “We believe the changes we made with our push this week are going to feed into our strengths at the start. Alysia put down two really good runs, and with consistency being an important aspect of medalling at the four-heat event at the Games, it’s awesome to have today under our belts moving forward.”
Elana Myers Taylor and Lolo Jones of the United States were the team to beat on Saturday, winning with a time of 2:15.27. Germany’s Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek finished .21 seconds back in second at 2:15.48, while their teammates, Stephanie Schneider and Lisa Buckwitz, topped the Canadians for the bronze medal with a time of 2:15.76.
Testing new equipment, Canada’s top sled of Kaillie Humphries (Calgary) and Phylicia George (Markham, Ont.) struggled to a ninth-place finish with a time of 2:16.93. Christine de Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.) and Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) secured the Canadian women three sleds at the Olympic Winter Games for the first time ever with a 14th place finish (2:17.21).
Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden Slide to Fourth in Two-Man Race
Feeding off his first victory of the season last week, Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.) welcomed Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.) into the sled where they led all three Canadian teams into the top-10.
The silver medallists at last year’s World Championships enjoyed their best-ever finish in St. Moritz, placing fourth with a two-run time of 2:11.12.
“I’m pretty happy with the race today, by far my best result here,” said Kripps, who is the overall World Cup leader in the two-man standings thanks to his four podium finishes.
“I haven’t made the cut (with the top-20 for the second run) here the last three years so it was nice to break the curse. The Germans were flying today and we just couldn’t get the speed they were getting.”
The Germans swept the two-man podium. Nico Walther and Christian Poser grabbed the gold after posting the top time in the final heat to win with a combined time of 2:10.72. Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis were second at 2:10.77, while Johannes Lochner and Christopher Weber passed the Canucks in the final heat to snag the bronze at 2:10.93.
The other two Canadian sleds also found their way into the top-10 in St. Moritz. Calgary’s Chris Spring and Edmonton’s Neville Wright clocked-in at 2:11.54 for seventh place.
Nick Poloniato (Hamilton) wasn’t able to capitalize on top push times propelled by Calgary’s Lascelles Brown. The Canadian duo did, however, finish solid in eighth spot with a combined time of 2:11.72.
All three men’s sleds will be back on the start line Sunday for the four-man bobsleigh race.