Games over: Kripps leads bobsled team to Olympic podium for Canada’s 26th medal

BEIJING — Canadian Justin Kripps already knew what it was like to stand on an Olympic podium. But his teammates didn’t and he wanted to share that experience with them.

BEIJING — Canadian Justin Kripps already knew what it was like to stand on an Olympic podium. But his teammates didn’t and he wanted to share that experience with them.

That was a motivating factor for Kripps, who steered his crew to a bronze medal in the four-man bobsleigh on the final day of the Beijing Games – Canada’s last Olympic medal.

Kripps, 35, who won gold in the two-man bobsleigh at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, held on to third place by six hundredths of a second.

The bronze was a first Olympic medal for Ryan Sommer of White Rock, BC, Cam Stones of Whitby, Ont., and Ben Coakwell of Moose Jaw, Sask.

“It means the world to me to have these three guys in the sled with me, and now they’re Olympic medalists,” said Kripps, of Summerland, British Columbia.

“I have already come to these Games with an Olympic medal, and this team that has been working for four years, has been together for four years, and that they end up with an Olympic medal, it’s just incredible.”

Kripps rode his crew to an overall time of three minutes 55.09 seconds at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, well behind gold and silver winners Germany.

The Canadians were third after the first two runs on Saturday. They started the fourth moto with a slight advantage over the German Christoph Hafer and clung to the podium.

“When you cross the finish line, all of a sudden you realize how much pressure there was,” Kripps said. “So at that time, it was amazing to have that accomplished.”

Chris Spring of Priddis, Alta., finished ninth overall.

The bronze medal was Canada’s second medal in bobsleigh at the Games – Christine de Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., won bronze in the monobob.

It was also Canada’s 26th medal overall, capping a standout Beijing Olympics heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, both during the sporting event and in the months leading up to it.

Those 26 medals — four gold, eight silver and 14 bronze — put Canada fourth in the medal count behind Norway (37), Russia (32) and Germany (27). The Canadians finished ahead of the United States (24).

Canada’s four gold medals were its lowest podium total since Lillehammer 1994.

“Let’s not hide how difficult the past two years have been for Team Canada, which I believe has had to endure the most restrictive COVID protocols of any country,” said David Shoemaker, CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Three of Canada’s 26 medals were won by Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, who was named Canada’s flag bearer for Sunday’s closing ceremonies.

The long-track speed skater won a full slate of medals in Beijing, including the country’s first-ever medal at the Games: bronze in the women’s 3,000 metres.

The 26-year-old followed up with silver in the 5,000 metres. She finished with gold in the team pursuit alongside teammates Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais.

Ending his Games by leading Canada to Bird’s Nest Stadium was the perfect finish.

“It’s never something I thought I could do,” Weidemann said during the flag-bearing honors. “These Games have been so, so amazing. And I feel like every day we’re piling up more and more and I haven’t quite absorbed it all. I have a lack of words and a lack of emotions and I have no more tears, I have cried at every event now.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to go home and reflect on everything that’s happened.”

It was an otherwise calm final day for Canada.

Cendrine Browne of Saint-Jerome, Que., finished 16th in the women’s 30-kilometre cross-country mass start, the second-best showing in the country in the event.

The 28-year-old was one position behind Canadian record holder Sara Renner, who finished 15th in the mass start at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“It’s my best performance ever and one of the best Canadian results. I’m speechless,” Browne said.

Her teammate Katherine Stewart-Jones of Chelsea, Que., earned what is now tied for the third-best Canadian result, finishing 30th.

Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse was 39th. Chelsea’s Laura Leclair finished 51st.

Earlier, at the National Alpine Ski Center in Yanqing, the Canadian ski team failed to challenge for a medal in the mixed team parallel event.

Erin Mielzynski of Collingwood, Ont., Erik Read of Canmore, Alta., Cassidy Gray of Invermere, BC and Trevor Philp of Calgary lost to Slovakia in the 1/8 round.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Comments are closed.