Olympics presented difficult challenges

Starting off strong with a string of top 10 finishes had us sitting as the front runner in the race for a third sled in Sochi.

by Justin Kripps

Wow, what a crazy season.

We started with the big goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

Starting off strong with a string of top 10 finishes had us sitting as the front runner in the race for a third sled in Sochi.

We had just finished racing on the North American tracks and I knew it was going to take everything I had to keep the success going in Europe.

For the most part we had good results. The four-man, as usual for me, was more consistent while the two man had a 16th place, a fifth place and my first ever victory winning the Köenigssee World Cup.

Heading to Sochi after this success felt great, although I knew I would have to take advantage of every training run since I hadn’t been selected to go to the international training week on the Olympic track at the start of the season.

We started off the two-man sitting in fourth place after the first day and only .08 of a second out of third.

I came out swinging on the third run, putting down my best run of the competition…but we lost one more hundredth to third place.

I decided my best at the time wasn’t going to move me ahead of the heavy hitters so I would have to try something different in the track.

It didn’t work. We dropped to sixth.

The training week for the four-man started well. The coaches made a last minute decision to take the top crew from the top sled (piloted by Chris Spring) and put them behind me to give our program a better shot at the podium.

I felt bad for Spring but I was happy the coaches had confidence in me and I was excited to race with Jesse, Ben and Cody.

We lined up for the race, excited to see what we could do. Massive push, one hundredth off the record, second overall and came down in eighth, from 10th off. I was okay with that, worse ice, but moving in the right direction.

On the second run, I had a great run going, split times getting faster and faster and then all of a sudden disaster struck, we were on our heads.

I couldn’t believe it. I had crashed at the Olympics. We ground to a halt and for a second it was quiet. Then yelling, eight or nine medics calling out to us, asking if we were okay.

We were. No one was seriously injured; just banged up, burned and a bit concussed probably.

As we got out of the sled the crowd erupted in cheers.

It was deafening. It was overwhelming. It was what the Olympics are all about.

Our team consoled each other, walked up the outrun together, our other teammates were there helping us out, all the other athletes from other nations helping and offering kind words.

We had crossed the finish line so we could race again the next day, after medical clearance.

We were in last place, too far back to have a chance to finish anything other than last. I learned that in the time interval before the crash we were in second place overall. I decided I wanted to get back out there.

Lyndon Rush told me I wouldn’t regret it if I did. Ben and Cody offered to give up their spots so our spares Luke Demetre and Graeme Rinholm would race and become Olympians, which was amazing.

Our final run was good. The support we got from all over Canada was overwhelming.

Thanks to all my Summerland supporters. In particular a big thank you to Felicity and Berndt Stahl at Summerland Pharmacy for their continued financial support, and to Tom Brickenden at Summerland Secondary School for his time and effort in coordinating fundraising for me and to Mrs. Tracy and Mrs. Shanner’s  classes at Giant’s Head School for their Bobsleigh Bake Sale fundraiser, and to Mrs. Richardson and her leadership group at Summerland Secondary School for the fabulous flag. Thank you to all who signed the flag, sent messages and tweets to me, and supported the various Team Kripps fundraisers. It means a lot to me.

Justin Kripps competed in bobsleigh in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.