After finishing dead last at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Summerland bobsleigh pilot Justin Kripps sits ranked as the number team in the world, something he hopes is a sign that bodes well for PyeongChang.
“I’ve had a really good season,” said Kripps, 31. “We’ve got a lot of momentum heading into the games.”
The bobsleigh athlete is preparing to compete in his third Olympics, on the heels of a great season in 2017 where Kripps and brakeman Jesse Lumsden won the two-man silver at the World Championship. In his last competition ahead of the Games, Kripps locked up his first overall World Cup title with a bronze medal in the two-man race.
“Winning the overall is absolutely huge,” said the 31-year-old Kripps, who now has nine career podium finishes in two-man racing along with a silver medal at last year’s World Championship. “It’s been a dream of mine since I started driving. I’m really proud of both Alex (Kopacz) and Jesse (Lumsden) who both pushed very well to share the two-man workload. It’s incredible we didn’t finish worse than fourth the whole season.”
While expectations are high for himself, there will be some stiff competition at the 2018 Olympics. He expects tough competition from Germany and Latvia. The South Korean team will also be a wild card in the Games. Kripps said the South Koreans have spent much of this season training and have not participated in many of the World Cup events and competitions.
“They’ll know the track really well,” he said.
Kripps has been a bobsleigh athlete since August, 2006 and has a long list of career highlights in the World Cup, world championships and Winter Olympics.
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He competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a brakeman with Pierre Lueders’ four-man crews. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, he was the pilot of Canada-3. At that competition, the sled overturned on turn 12 in the second heat and finished in last place. This year, he is confident about the Games despite having new teammates with him in both the four-man and two-man competitions.
“I believe we can win,” he said. “That’s the goal we have going in.”
The two-man bobsleigh competition will be held Feb. 18 and 19, with official training heats Feb. 15 to 17. The four-man bobsleigh competition will be held Feb. 24 and 25, with official training heats Feb. 21 to 23.