Summerland’s Justin Kripps with Bryan Barnett as his brakeman, drove the Canada 3 sled to a stunning sixth place finish at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia on the weekend.
Kripps surprised everybody by placing fourth in the first of four heats and then maintained that position up to the final heat.
“We took the risks to try to get the bronze for Canada because to me fourth and sixth is the same…medals are what count at the Olympics,” Kripps said.
Taking a riskier line than his previous heats, Kripps took a gamble that didn’t quite pay off, a resulting skid lost valuable velocity, dropping them back to sixth place overall.
“I knew that we didn’t do enough to challenge for the medal, I decided to take some risks in the track to try to shave off some time because I believe if we did what we had been doing we would have came fourth and I wanted to go all or nothing for the medal,” he said after the competition.
At the start of the season, they were not even expected to qualify for the two-man event.
The sliding track at Sochi designed and built specifically for this Winter Olympics and completed last year, is a technically very difficult track, the longest track in the world and with an unprecedented three uphill stretches.
Most of the top pilots had some valuable practice on the track back in October, prior to the racing season, but the Canadian coaches made the strategic decision to have Team Kripps compete in the lower level America’s Cup race instead, reasoning that they may need the extra points to qualify for the Olympics.
Kripps was not expected to be a medal contender in Sochi.
Russia 1 took the gold medal in the two-man event, followed by Switzerland 1, and USA 1. For the first time in many years bobsleigh powerhouse Germany was shut out of the medals and only managed an eighth place for their top team.
Canada 1 (Lyndon Rush and Lascelles Brown) finished in ninth place, with Canada 2 (Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden) finishing seventh.
Team Kripps will again be representing Canada, this time in the four-man bobsleigh, this weekend, and then they look forward to an exciting closing ceremony and some down time.