Canadian Bobsleigh Squad Brings Team Focus to Start Line of Podium Pursuit
CALGARY—Led byOlympic medallists, Kaillie Humphries, Helen Upperton and Lyndon Rush,Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton named a new-look squad that will put a focus on teamin their podium pursuit at all levels of the sport when they hit the start linefor 2011-12 season.
Canada will field a total of seven sleds on the World Cup and Europa Cup circuits this year. Headlining the star-studded line-up of athletes on the World Cup will be Canada’s three bobsleigh medal-wining pilots from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Calgary’s Kaillie Humphries will join forces with second-year brakeman Emily Baadsvik, of Smithers, B.C., and Montreal’s Marquise Brisebois.The 26-year-old Humphries, who also has a World Championship medal to her credit, has racked up eight World Cup medals in her five years of driving on the elite circuit.
Another year of leadership will be added to the national team as Canada’s most accomplished women’s bobsleigh pilot, Helen Upperton,will return in search of a World Championship medal which is the final piece of hardware remaining vacant on her mantle. Upperton, who turns 32 on Halloween, has an Olympic silver medal to go along with 19 World Cup podium finishes,including six victories on the World Cup.
Upperton will race in North America only this year in an effort to fully-prepare for the 2012 World Championships in Lake Placid,N.Y. The Calgarian will kick off the season competing on the America’s Cup circuit with brakeman, Edmonton’s Heather Hughes and Toronto’s Diane Kelly, before hitting the start line for both Canadian World Cups in Whistler and Calgary in February.
The team approach will be featured prominently in Olympic bronze medallist Lyndon Rush’s sled. The leader of the men’s World Cup Team, and winner of one silver and three bronze medals in two- and four-man action last year, will once again slide with Ottawa’s Cody Sorenson and Edmonton-based Olympian, Neville Wright. The trio welcomes the addition of Jesse Lumsden, who will put his driving development on hold until the end of the World Cup season in an effort to help Canada win more medals internationally.
“The success of any crew is one that buys into the team concept, and Jesse is a team guy who fits in with this talented group of athletes,” said Lyndon Rush, who added Calgary’s Justin Wilkinson will be the alternate on the squad. “I am excited about having Jesse join Cody and Neville on my crew. We are excited to begin the season.”
A star running back in the CFL, the 29-year-old Lumsden announced in June he would retire from the gridiron to focus on driving the bobsleigh.
“Learning to drive is a goal I set out to accomplish, and I will continue to do so after the World Cup as long as it does not interfere with the dynamics and potential successes of the entire Canadian team,” said Lumsden. “I feel being a team guy is important to any success,especially in a unique sport like bobsleigh. In the end it is about the success of the program, and I’m excited to join Neville, Cody and Justin on the World Cup.”
Calgary’s Chris Spring, who split time on the World Cup and Europa Cup circuits last year, will benefit from the veteran leadership of the Canada 1 sled. Spring will pilot a crew of Tim Randall, of Toronto, Derek Plug, of Calgary, Graeme Rinholm, of Saskatoon, and Bill Thomas, of Queensville,Ont., in the Canada 2 sled during his first full season on the World Cup.
“Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes have wonnearly 200 medals on the international stage over the last two decades and welook forward to adding to this total as we continue to slide closer to Sochi in2014,” said Nathan Cicoria, high-performance director, Bobsleigh CanadaSkeleton. “With Kaillie, Helen and Lyndon continuing to steer the ship, ouryoung athletes will significantly benefit from having some of the best in theworld at their side.”
Canada will also start four sleds on the Europa Cup circuit. Olympic brakeman, Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., and Hamilton\'s Chris Korol will drive the men’s sleds. Kripps, who will be driving for his second year, and Korol\'s rookie season in the pilot seat, will team up with Luke Demetre, of New Glasgow, N.S., Hamilton’s Chris Korol, James McNaughton,of Newmarket, Ont., and Patrick Szpak, of Windsor, Ont.
Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti and Heather Patterson, of Guelph, Ont., will pilot the two women’s sleds on the Europa Cup. Ciochetti and Patterson will use a powerful group of brakeman including: Calgary’s Kate O’Brien; Michelle Long, of Thompson, Man.; Toronto’s Alison Young; Susan Sobey, of Searletown, P.E.I.; and Christine Bushie, of Spruce Grove, Alta.
The World Cup gets underway in Igls, Austria, November 28 to December 4. The world’s best athletes will return to Canada for back-to-back World Cups in Whistler, B.C., January 30 to February 5, and in Calgary February 6-12. The World Championships are scheduled for Lake Placid, N.Y., February 13-26.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton will name the Canadian Skeleton Team in mid-November.
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporatepartners – VISA, Dow Chemical, Adidas, Schenker Canada, KBC Helmets, Eurotech –Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committeeand Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca