Podium hopes in four-man bobsleigh appear positive for Canada’s top sled at the midway point. With Justin Kripps as the pilot, Canada sits in the bronze medal position behind two German sleds.
Kripps, a four-time Olympian, has never won a medal in the four-man event but sits just 0.38 seconds back of Germany’s Francesco Friedrich for the lead after the first two runs at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
With a crew of Ryan Sommer, Cameron Stones and Ben Coakwell, Kripps’ sled came into the race ranked second in the world, only behind Friedrich. In the 2021-22 World Cup season, Kripps drove to the podium three times and only finished outside of the top five once in eight races.
Seeking a fourth Olympic gold medal, Friedrich and his team of Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer, and Alexander Schueller took the lead at the halfway point of the four-man race at the Beijing Games in 1 minute, 57 seconds flat.
That’s a mere 0.03 seconds ahead of Lochner — the first-heat leader — and his team of Florian Bauer, Christopher Weber and Christian Rasp. “There is actually not much of a difference,” Lochner said. “For us, the race starts at zero tomorrow.”
Olympic bobsleigh races combine the times of four runs over two days, compared to regular World Cup races, which combine just two runs.
After a disappointing fourth-place finish in the two-man event, Kripps and Sommer are looking to push to the podium in the four-man race, and are poised to do so at the halfway point. “Not going to overthink things,” Kripps said. “Just get the sled ready and rest and get ready for tomorrow.”
Other Canadians on the perimeter
Canada’s second sled, driven by veteran Chris Spring, sits 10th halfway through the race. The Australian-born Canadian drove a clean run but picked a less aggressive line than his counterparts and sits 0.62 seconds back of Lochner’s lead.
Despite not racing regularly on the World Cup circuit, Canada’s Taylor Austin sits in 22nd. His crew includes 2021 Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Jay Dearborn as well as Chris Patrician and Daniel Sunderland.
The Dutch sled piloted by former Team Canada member Ivo de Bruin sits 24th, while the Jamaican sled, driven by Shanwayne Stephens, sits in last place in the country’s first Olympic race since Nagano 1998.
None of Austin’s, de Bruin’s or Stephen’s sleds are expected to finish in the top 20 — which is required in order to qualify for the fourth and final run.
Kripps takes on the third and fourth runs of the Beijing 2022 four-man race, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Beijing 2022 website.
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