Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton Names 2023-24 National Bobsleigh Program

New generation of Canadian bobsledders launch season with GoFundMe campaign to support continued development

CALGARY—A new generation of Canadian bobsleigh athletes will look to continue a tradition of excellence that spans nearly six decades at all levels of the sport while sliding around the world with the maple leaf on their sleds during the 2023-24 season.

Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has completed the National Bobsleigh Program team selection process naming six athletes to the Senior Bobsleigh Team that includes three women’s pilots and three women’s crew. The governing body for the sport in Canada also announced one women’s pilot and two men’s pilots to its Development Bobsleigh Team along with a group of athletes recognized as Project Athletes that consists of three women’s pilots, five women’s crew, two men’s pilots and eleven men’s crew.

With the goal of qualifying three women’s sleds for the 2024 World Championships, pilots Cynthia Appiah (Toronto), Bianca Ribi (Calgary) and Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) will join forces with Alexandra Klein (Hamilton, Ont.), Leah Walkeden (Edmonton) and Niamh Haughey (Scarborough, Ont.).

Appiah will look to build off a medal winning season where she finished third overall on the World Cup Women’s Monobob standings with five podium finishes. The 33-year-old welcomes the return of her 2022 Olympic teammate, Melissa Lotholz, who will be back on the start block after taking one year off. Bianca Ribi, a 27-year-old who struck gold in her World Cup debut last year on home ice, is focused on mixing it up with the world’s best during her sophomore season on the elite circuit.

“Over the last two seasons, Cynthia, Bianca and Melissa along with their crews have proven that a new generation of Canadian bobsledders have arrived and are ready to carry the torch for our program on the track to 2026 and beyond,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “They lead a diverse group of athletes in our national program who are equally determined as those who have slid before them to achieve their performance goals. With this group of veterans leading the way, our program is driven to deliver results on the World Cup while we continue to nurture and develop a deep pool of athletes in a healthy and supportive culture of excellence.”

Team Appiah (Appiah and Walkeden) and Team Ribi (Ribi and Haughey) will start the season on the World Cup circuit. Team Lotholz (Lotholz and Klein) will kick things off competing on the North American Cup circuit.

“I am very excited to be coming back to the program. Being one of only three athletes on the team who has been to two Olympic Games, I’m coming back in a bit of a leadership role which is very unique for me. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to mentor different people on the team, and work with the next generation of pilots who are in a learning space while I compete with them on the North American Cup circuit,” said Lotholz. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what this Olympic cycle holds for me. For this season, the big goals are to qualify a third sled for the women’s team at World Championships in Winterberg. I’m also not losing sight of working towards next year’s World Championships in Lake Placid, and ultimately the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.”

Eight more Canadian sleds will join Team Lotholz on the North American Cup circuit to start the 2023-24 campaign. Toronto’s Erica Voss – the lone Development Bobsleigh Team women’s pilot – will train and compete alongside a trio of Project Athlete pilots: Olympian Kristen Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.); Mackenzie Stewart (Madeira Park, B.C.); and Eden Wilson (Calgary) will also continue their development in North America.

A pool of five rookie Project Athlete crew will be developing alongside these women’s pilots: Brittney Bult (Brampton, Ont.); Caelan Brown (Orillia, Ont.); Cadence Chernoff (Regina); Leanna Garcia (Ottawa); and Morgan Ramsay (Rivers, Man.).

Development Bobsleigh Team pilots Cyrus Gray (Duncan, B.C.), and Jay Dearborn (Ottawa) along with Project Athlete pilots Taylor Austin (Lethbridge, Alta.) and Patrick Norton (Ottawa) will pilot the Canadian men’s sleds.

Austin, who drove his Canadian bobsleigh crew to their first career World Cup medal last season on home ice in Whistler, B.C., will split his season competing on both the North American Cup and World Cup circuits with the goal of qualifying for the 2024 World Championships. The 33-year-old will lead a crew that includes: Anthony Couturier-Lagacé (Riviere-du-loup, Que.); Shane Ohrt (Edmonton); and DeVaughn McEwan (Edmonton).

Two Canadian Football League players – Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (Scarborough, Ont.) and Keaton Bruggling (Ottawa) – will help provide the horsepower for Patrick Norton. Murray-Lawrence began the chase for his Olympic dream in bobsleigh three years ago. Bruggling, a 25-year-old wide receiver with the Ottawa Redblacks, has demonstrated incredible potential while continuing to learn the intricacies of the sport after exchanging his cleats for track spikes at the conclusion of the CFL season. Olympian Mike Evelyn (Ottawa), Davidson de Souza (Calgary) and Chris Ashley (Calgary) round out the crew. Team Norton will compete on the North American Cup swing with a focus on earning a spot to represent Canada at the 2024 World Championships.

“This year as a whole, we are focused on getting back to being a powerhouse nation in the sport. We have some elite brakeman who are now in the front seat, so we are excited to see the growth of those athletes over the next couple years. We also have veteran pilots that are ready to step up to the plate and fill some big shoes,” said Shaquille Murray-Lawrence. “Personally, I am excited to have another CFL brother, Keaton Bruggling, enter into the program. I think professional football is an important recruitment ground for bobsleigh with a lot of talented Canadian football players in our country. They just need to be exposed to this amazing sport.”

Cyrus Gray and Jay Dearborn will also continue their development on the North American Cup circuit along with crew members Kenny M’Pindou (Edmonton), Justin Tremblay (Montreal), and Cesar de Guzman (Toronto). Dearborn, who is splitting time playing CFL ball and learning to drive bobsleighs, was also part of the Olympic crew in 2022.

In an effort to move the program towards a more centralized model utilizing Calgary based world class facilities - WinSport’s Ice House and the CSI-Calgary training centre - with coaches regularly working in the daily training environment, USA-based head coach Todd Hayes and Belgium-based technical coach Elfe Willemsen, will not be relocating and will therefore be leaving Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.

Canada’s Olympic medal-winning bobsleigh pilots – Justin Kripps and Lyndon Rush – will deliver the technical coaching required for the National Bobsleigh Program. Athletes will also leverage strength and condition coaching through a partnership with the CSI-Calgary with coach Quin Sekulich, who has helped develop countless sliding-sport athletes into Olympic, World Championship and World Cup podium results over the last decade.

“Todd and Elfe have had a tremendously positive impact in supporting all of Canada’s bobsleigh athletes in the pursuit of their performance goals, while ensuring the organization has continued its tradition of excellence at the elite level,” said Chris Le Bihan. “We are incredibly grateful for the positive impact they have had on all of our athletes – from introducing a new generation to the sport, to developing them into National Team members, and celebrating many historic performance benchmarks including podium results along the way. We thank both Todd and Elfe for their passion, dedication, hard work and commitment to our program, and we wish them the very best in the next chapter of their careers. We also know the future of our program is in good hands with Justin, Lyndon and Quin.”

In conjunction with kicking off their competitive season, Canada’s bobsleigh athletes launched a GoFundMe campaign with the hope that all Canadians will consider generously investing in the program and slide with them into this exciting new era.

“Our program represents Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast so it is our goal to bring all Canadians with us on the track towards achieving our Olympic dreams, and in turn, do our part to inspire all Canadians to live healthier and more active lives,” said Cynthia Appiah. “This much-needed support will help our team of developing athletes access the tools we require in our daily training environment to be fully prepared to take on the world’s best.”

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 corporate partner – Karbon – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at ;