It was a gold medal finish for Canadians Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz in the two-man bobsleigh competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea on Monday.
The Canadian duo finished with a total time of 3:16.86 in four heats on Sunday and Monday, tying them with Fransesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis of Germany.
“It’s great, it’s two more people as happy as we are,” Kripps said of the tie. “They are amazing competitors. We have been friends and rivals for years. “Francesco laid down such an amazing run and Thorsten has been pushing really well. I tried to keep my mind clear and do my thing and we laid down the best run I have ever had. And we managed to take a couple of hundredths off the push too and we definitely needed it.”
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The bronze medal went to the Latvian team of Oskars Melbardis and Janis Strenga, with a time of 3:16.91, just 0.05 seconds from first place.
This is the second time two gold medals were awarded for an Olympic bobsleigh event. The other time was in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where Pierre Lueders and Dave MacEachern of Canada tied with an Italian team for gold.
“He actually taught me to drive a bobsled,” Kripps said of Lueders. “It’s pretty insane that 20 years after he tied for a gold medal I did, about eight years after he taught me. I saw him briefly today in the Korean changing room. He taught me the fundamentals, pretty much everything I know about bobsleigh. It’s incredible.”
Kripps, from Summerland and Kopacz, from London, Ont. were consistently strong in the two-man bobsleigh heats.
The heats were held on Sunday and Monday.
On Sunday in the first heat, they finished second, just 0.02 seconds behind Melbardis and Strenga. In the second heat, they finished in third spot, behind two German teams and tied with the South Korean team of Won Yunjong and Seo Youngwoo.
In the first heat on Monday, they were tied for third place with a time of 49.09 seconds, 0.13 seconds away from first place, the same time as the German team of Johannes Lochner and Christopher Weber.
Friedrich and Margis of German finished first in that heat, with a time of 48.96 seconds, while the second-place finish went to Melbardis and Strenga of Latvia, with a time of 49.08 seconds.
In the second heat, Kripps and Kopacz finished third, with a time of 49.28 seconds, 0.07 seconds behind Melbardis and Strenga, while Friedrich and Margis finished second with a time of 49.22 seconds.
Two other Canadian teams also competed in the two-man bobsleigh.
Nick Poloniato and Jesse Lumsden finished in seventh place, while Christopher Spring and Lascelles Brown finished in 10th place.
Earlier this year, Kripps won the overall World Cup title in the two-man event. He had podium finishes in five of the eight races and did not place lower than fourth.
Kripps’s mother, Libby Harrison, is excited about her son’s Olympic gold.
“Justin has worked so hard for this and we are all so proud,” she said. “All the athletes out there have worked so hard and it is a huge honour just to be an Olympian. But to be a gold medal winner, that is pretty darn special.”
The win also has a bittersweet element as Kripps’s grandmother died on Feb. 12, just one week before the gold medal finish.
“One of the last things she told me was we had to go to the Olympics no matter what,” Harrison recalled. “She had a strong feeling he would do really well. And he did. It is just so incredible.”