Side angle of four bobsledders running and pushing a sledAP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky
AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

Team Kripps in bronze medal position midway through four-man bobsleigh

Justin Kripps and his crew of Ryan Sommer, Cam Stones and Ben Coakwell put themselves into position to take a run at a gold medal in four-man bobsleigh, sitting in third place halfway through the four-run final.

The 35-year-old pilot posted two clean runs down the difficult Yanqing National Sliding Centre track in times of 58.38 and 59.00 seconds. His combined time of 1:57.38 left him right behind two German sleds. Francesco Friedrich, the defending Olympic champion, had a two-run time of 1:57.00 and Johannes Lochner posted 1:57.03

“It was pretty good execution, boys pushed well, loaded real clean and drove pretty well so pretty happy with the day,” said Kripps, who wasn’t happy with a disappointing 10th place finish in the two-man.

Chasing down the German sleds for the top spot while also holding off another German, Christoph Hafer who sits fourth, just 0.17 back of Kripps, won’t be easy in the final two runs.

“It’s pretty tough. They have obviously very good equipment, they’re pretty fast today, good starts from Friedrich,” Kripps said of his German rivals. “We’re right there in the starts with Lochner but he has real good speed down the track.

“We didn’t make a lot of mistakes today so we’re going to try to do the same thing, race our race and try to be fast tomorrow.”

Front angle of four bobsledders running and pushing a bobsled
Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cam Stones and Benjamin Coakwell, of Canada, slide during the 4-man heat 1 at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Stones said the team is in a good position heading into the final two runs.

“It’s ideal, we had good starts, good pushes,” he said of the day, but acknowledge the four of them will have to repeat, or even improve their performance. “It’s going to take exactly what we did today, two fast pushes, good runs and then, we’re racing the track not the Germans. If we can beat the track tomorrow we’ll be okay.”

Christopher Spring drove a second Canadian sled into the final two runs, finishing 11th in a combined time of 1:58.43. The third Canadian sled driven by Olympic rookie Taylor Austin is currently 21st with a combined time of 1:59.48. That is about four-tenths of a second out of the top-20, which they would need to move into after the third run to get to race in the final run.

“They were alright, I’m not upset with them,” Spring said of his two runs. “I thought I drove pretty well and the boys pushed good. We just have to find some hundredths tomorrow.”

His teammates — Cody Sorensen, Sam Giguere and Mike Evelyn — are confident they can do just that.

“We for sure have a few more hundredths in the tank tomorrow,” said Sorensen.

The final two runs will start at 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday.