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‘This is just the beginning’: Canadian bobsledder confidently heading into season

The next generation of Canadian bobsledders believes they can build something this World Cup season.

Calgary’s Taylor Austin piloted a four-seater sled alongside Shaquille Murray Lawrence, Cyrus Gray and Davidson De Souza to win bronze in snowy Whistler, British Columbia on Saturday. The medal is a first for the circuit and comes at the first stop of the season.

“It gives us a great deal of confidence, camaraderie, cohesion, pushing hard and sliding fast,” said Austin. “So we have to keep it going until the next few races.”

Several veteran Canadian bobsleighers retired after the Beijing Olympics, creating room for Austin and others to step up from the development team.

“Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “It’s a new team, so we have to stick together and keep improving.”

Germany’s Francesco Friedrich won the gold medal with a time of 1:41.56 over two heats. This was his 42nd medal in his 4-a-side at the reigning Olympic and European Cup champions.

Britain’s Brad Hall was 0.42 seconds behind to win the silver medal in a field containing 10 sleds from 6 countries.

“We feel good. We had a good start and had a surprisingly good second run,” said Friedrich. “I’m really happy with the results here.”

There was a tense moment midway through the race when the German sled piloted by Christoph Haffer struggled with the brakes after the finish line and slid off the edge of the track and into the parking lot. The impact damaged a sled runner and forced Hafer and his team to drop out of the second heat.

Austin and Murray Lawrence finished sixth in Friday’s two-man bobsleigh, while Friedrich took first place again in this race.

Also on Friday, Winnipeg’s Bianca Livi made her first World Cup appearance as a pilot, winning gold in the women’s monobob. The 26-year-old then added to her resume that she finished fifth in the two women’s bobsled, teaming up with her Niamh Haughey of the brake women on Saturday.

“Even in the worst of times, we’ve had great times, so I’m really happy with the foundation we’ve been building for the rest of the season,” Livi said.

“I think we can build on this and definitely build team cohesion for future World Cups. We continue to build trust, so I’m sure this is just the beginning.”

Ribi and Haughey were the top Canadians in a field of eight sleds from four different countries.

The duo finished behind Germany’s Kim Karikki and Annabelle Galander, who took first place with a time of 1:45.93. The 25-year-old pilot described winning his fourth gold medal at the World Cup as “incredible”.

“We were very happy here at the difficult track in Whistler. First time here. But we are very happy,” Karikki said.

Switzerland’s Melanie Hassler and Nadja Pasternak took silver, 0.20 seconds behind Germany, while USA’s Kylie Humphries and Emily Lena finished third.

Canada’s Cynthia Apia was sixth with brakewoman Leah Walkedden making her World Cup debut.

“I was very nervous,” said Walkeden, 29, a former sprinter at the University of Alberta. “But the great thing about bobsleds and brakemen is that every practice is the same as every race: push, get in, pull the brakes.”

Appiah, one of the Canadian team’s most veteran athletes, won silver in the monobob on Friday.

After her first run on Saturday, she was visibly frustrated as she held her head momentarily before getting off the sled.

“We know we can do better,” said Walkeden. “We just said, we just need to establish a cleaner way of doing it the second time around. We know we can do it. And we did. We turned it around and finished on a high note.

USA’s World Cup rookies Riley Compton and Macy Tarleton failed to finish the first heat after crashing mid-run.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, Canadian Press

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‘This is just the beginning’: Canadian bobsledder confidently heading into season

Source link ‘This is just the beginning’: Canadian bobsledder confidently heading into season

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