Justin Kripps Pilots Canadian Crew to Special Silver in World Cup Four-Man
ALTENBERG, Ger.—Justin Kripps and his Canadian bobsleigh crew celebrated a historic day while putting a silver lining around the first half of the World Cup bobsleigh season with a second-place finish in the four-man competition in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday.
Consistent top-five pushes by Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.), Ryan Sommer (White Rock, B.C.) and Ben Coackwell (Saskatoon) along with solid driving down the gnarly 17-corner track that is considered one of the toughest tests in the world found the Canadians in second spot with a two-run time of 1:49.16.
“I have never medalled here in the four-man so this was really big for us,” said Kripps, who slid onto the podium in both the two- and four-man events on the same weekend for just the second time this season.
“We crashed in training this week, and it was pretty hard for me to go do another run to qualify because I was pretty beat up so this one is extra special.”
The Canadian sled finished .28 seconds behind Germany’s Francesco Friedrich, Thorsten Margis, Alexander Schueller and Martin Grothkopp who won the gold with a time of 1:48.88. Russsia’s Rostislav Gaitiukevich, Aleksei Laptev, Mikhail Mordasov and Pavel Travkin rounded out the podium in third at 1:49.23.
It was the third four-man podium this season for the Canucks who are ranked second overall in the World Cup four-man standings. They also won the bronze at stops in Igls, Austria and last weekend in Winterberg, Germany.
The silver-medal triumph was additionally special for Ben Coakwell who tied Lascelles Brown for the record of most World Cup medals in the four-man competition by a Canadian brakeman with 17.
“Lascelles was a major mentor for me. He probably doesn’t know this, but he is an idol of mine and amazed me every day with his talent,” said Coakwell. “He taught me how to push with his heart and I’m immensely thankful to accomplish something like this.”
The 34-year-old former varsity football player with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies has played a key role in leading a cultural change within the program over the last Olympic quadrennial that has translated into podium performances.
“Ben is a huge part of this team’s success and he’s a great leader when I’m not around,” added Kripps. “He’s an absolute killer on the push and in the sled.”
Coakwell’s first World Cup medal came during his rookie season in 2012 when he was part of a young crew piloted by Chris Spring who shocked the world to win the bronze in a four-man race on home ice in Whistler.
Spring was also in action on Sunday with Mike Evelyn (Ottawa), Cody Sorensen (Ottawa) and Cyrus Gray (Duncan, B.C.). Team Spring clocked-in at 1:50.34 for 15th spot.
Meanwhile, the Canadian women struggled to find the fast line down the Altenberg track on Sunday.
Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) and Sara Villani (Norval, Ont.) were the top Canadian sled in seventh place with a time of 1:55.44. Christine de Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.) and Kristen Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.) were 16th at 1:56.16. Toronto’s Cynthia Appiah and Edmonton’s Dawn Richardson Wilson did not qualify for a second run with the top-20, finishing 21st.
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