Humphries and Spring deliver double World Cup bobsleigh gold in Whistler
Feature photo: Chris Spring and Lascelles Brown during men’s two-man bobsleigh on January 23, 2016.
Canada swept bobsleigh World Cup gold on Saturday in Whistler, BC when Chris Spring followed up Kaillie Humphries’ win with a two-man victory of his own.
Humphries, with brakeman Melissa Lotholz, set the bar early for Canadian sleds – as they have done all season – with their fourth win and sixth podium position from as many World Cup races in women’s bobsleigh. Spring matched Humphies’ Whistler feat with decorated Olympian Lascelles Brown later in the evening.
With belief and hard work, Spring and Brown topped the BMW IBSF World Cup podium for Canada’s first men’s two-man World Cup medal of the season.
The pair started the competition with a strong run of 51.35 seconds, positioning them just 0.04s behind Russia’s leading sled driven by Alexander Kasjanov and ahead of fellow Canadians Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz.
“I know coming into this race I’m one of the best drivers in the world on this track, and if we have the start we did then I had the confidence knowing I can win the race and we showed that today,” Spring said in a post-race release through Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
The final heat was eventful, featuring crashes and contrasting strong performances. When it was over, Canada’s second sled driven by Kripps was out of the bronze medal position down to fifth, while Spring and Brown raced to an impressive 51.41s on their second outing to slide into the first place. Their total combined time of one minute 42.76s bettered Ugis Zalims and Intars Dambis of Lithuania by 0.20s, while the leading Russians dropped to third.
Spring went into the weekend’s competition ranked 12th in World Cup two-man standings. His season breakthrough arrived on Friday, when Whistler hosted the first of its pair of men’s two-man World Cup races on back-to-back nights. Spring steered his sled to its best World Cup finish of fifth this season, before winning outright on Saturday.
“I love this kid Spring,” Brown, the two-time Olympic medallist now a part-time brakeman at the age of 41 said praising his teammate. “I know this kid can drive. He is one of the better drivers out here. I told him (Friday) we’d win today and I called it right.”
The win was Spring’s first career World Cup two-man gold.
Humhpries and Lotholz earned their fourth World Cup gold medal of the season and set a new track record in Whistler on Saturday.
The Vancouver 2010 track is said to be the fastest in the world, and it lived up to billing when all three teams that made the podium in women’s bobsleigh on Saturday bettered the six-year old record of 52.80 seconds set by Humphries when she and Heather Moyse won Olympic gold for the first time.
On the sixth World Cup stop of the season, the Canadian powerhouse of Humphries and Lotholz set out to dominate in front of a home crowd. The duo started the competition with a huge first run of 52.71 seconds, one of their two record-breaking attempts.
Despite that impressive opener, the Canadians were only 0.06s ahead of the leading sleds from the United States and Germany. The American team of Jamie Greubel Poser and Cherrelle Garrett improved their time on the second run, drastically closing the gap on the Canadians. Humphries needed a big second drive to hold off the Americans and produced it, racing to 52.66s to break their newly set track record and finish in a combined time of one minute and 45.37s.
“It was a lot closer than I expected today. In all fairness I expected a bigger lead in my head and that is a testament to how well the other girls slid today,” Humphries said.
“There was a lot of pressure today being the Olympic champion here, and being at home. I don’t like the pressure, but I have experience and know how to deal with it. It is one of the things that comes with competing in sport at this level.”
Whistler is the second track record collected by Humphries and Lotholz in the 2015-16 calendar, after doing it earlier in Altenberg, Germany.
Next up, the top ranked Canadians will look to extend their world-leading points gap St. Moritz, Switzerland on February 6 and 7.