Summerland’s Justin Kripps scored gold in two-man bobsleigh at a world cup event in Altenberg, Germany (Photo courtesy Justin Kripps/Facebook)

Team Kripps sets record start times

Summerland Olympian pushes for gold at world cup

Summerland’s Justin Kripps two-man bobsleigh team put in an impressive performance at the world cup races in Altenberg, Germany this weekend.

Canada’s bobsleigh athletes slid into 2018 with a bang, claiming gold in both the women’s and men’s two-man world cup races Saturday on one of the most difficult tracks in the world.

Kripps and teammate Alex Kopacz (London, Ont.) captured their first world cup two-man title together while setting a new start record. On the women’s competition, Kaillie Humphries drove to her third victory of the world cup season in record fashion, and first with a new brakeman in Phylicia George on her sled.

“This is just an absolutely huge day for our program and especially great to do it in Altenberg,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “This is one of the hardest gold medals to get on the world cup. To show up in the lion’s den here in Germany, and be able to perform and win, is the real deal.”

Kripps and Kopacz set two start records before celebrating their first world cup title together in the two-man race. Posting a start time of 5.12 in the opening heat, the Canucks bettered that in the final run to set the new mark at 5.11.

The duo clocked the fastest times in both heats to secure the gold medal with a time of 1:49.21. It was the fourth two-man medal this year for Kripps, who is the overall world cup leader.

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His only other world cup two-man win came four years ago in Konigssee, Germany. Kopacz pushed Kripps to silver medals in both Whistler and Lake Placid earlier this year.

“Things are definitely rolling. To win here in Altenberg on such tough track is just awesome,” said Kripps, who now has seven career podium finishes in the two-man in addition to a silver at last year’s World Championships.

“Everything is coming together. I have more experience driving now. I went out and got the exact equipment, and runners, that I wanted, which is making a big difference.”

Related: Kripps strikes silver in Austria

Depth in the program has also played a huge role in having all three Canadian men’s sleds charging towards the podium.

“Before every run I say ‘trust yourself, trust your teammates, and execute.’ It is easy to perform when you have that trust. We are in a good place and want to just keep rolling,” added Kripps.

Perform they did. Reuniting with Kopacz, the Canadian duo set start records in both runs.

“We showed up and pushed today. We reviewed the first push and identified one minor mistake, and we nailed it on the second run. When things are going good it feels effortless. It is unbelievable,” said Kopacz.

“I’m just over the moon right now. We have been training hard, and I felt it was a matter of time until things paid off. We are heading in the right direction, and it is a lot of fun right now.”

But Team Kripps slid just short of winning medals in back-to-back days, finishing fourth in the four-man bobsleigh race. For the four-man event, he and Kopacz were joined by Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.) and Seyi Smith (Ottawa) running just .35 seconds short of the podium on the 1,413-metre track Sunday, clocking a two-run time of 1:49.14.

“The boys pushed really well today and helped us manage a decent result,” said Kripps. “Altenberg can be tricky for four-man. I had some mistakes at the top of the track, and one at the bottom as well in my first run.”

Despite the fastest start time in the opening heat, the errors had the top Canadian sled well back in seventh place after their first rip down one of the most challenging tracks in the world.

Kripps pulled it together in the final heat. Leveraging another top start time, the two-time Olympian posted the second-fastest down time to move into fourth place.

“I was able to hit my lines in the second run, and moved up a few spots so I was happy with that,” said Kripps. “It was super foggy out there. Overall, I’m happy to get to the bottom without any major problems.”

Complete results at www.ibsf.org and more information at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.

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