Canada will be fronted by veteran bobsleigh Olympians with podium experience, at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The team was officially named today at an event in Montreal.
If history gives any clues to future success, it’s encouraging that defending Olympic champions Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse will race at the Sanki Sliding Centre in February. Also returning are three of the four men’s Olympic bronze medallists from Vancouver 2010 – Lyndon Rush, Dave Bissett and Lascelles Brown.
Canada will also send Canada-2 pilot Jenny Ciochetti, (Edmonton, AB) and Chelsea Valois, (Zenon Park, SK) to compete in the women’s event.
The men’s side is flush with Olympic experience. In addition to the 2010 medallists, brakemen Jesse Lumsden, (Burlington, ON) and Neville Wright, (Edmonton, AB) are back. Piloting in addition to Rush will be Chris Spring (Calgary, AB) who competed at Vancouver 2010 for his native Australia and Justin Kripps (Summerland, BC) who was a brakeman at Vancouver 2010 before learning to drive a sled. Bryan Barnett (Edmonton, AB), a newcomer to bobsleigh from the world of athletics, competed at Beijing 2008 in the 200m.
Olympic rookies headed to Sochi are Cody Sorensen, (Ottawa, ON), Ben Coakwell, (Saskatoon, SK), James McNaughton, (Newmarket, ON), Tim Randall, (Toronto, ON), and Graeme Rinholm (Medicine Hat, AB). Additional names could be added before the Games begin.
The women that comprise Canada-1 have been very good on the World Cup tour this fall, already with three medals, (two gold, one silver), in four races.
The results are certainly encouraging. In five races before the holiday break in 2009, Humphries and Moyse had only one gold and one bronze. Of course, the duo went on to win gold in Whistler at Vancouver 2010. This year has been a better start.
Earlier this year, Humphries talked about the synergy with Moyse. “When Heather came back this summer, everything just felt so comfortable right away and I have nothing to worry about.” Moyse adds, “Nobody puts more pressure on us to win than we do ourselves.”
Coach Tom De La Hunty is confident in his lead pilot, “Nobody has ever dominated the sport this way and likely won’t for years to come because I believe Kaillie will continue to dominate,” he said after a recent World Cup podium.
On the men’s side of the maple leaf competition is fierce. The big pushers are preparing for Sochi for both the four-man and two-man races. While the big sled has been a work in progress, Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden won a two-man bronze medal in Calgary.
“Chris Spring is a superstar and I am thrilled to be in his sled. We have a lot of work to do, but we have set the pace for the season.” said Lumsden after the November home World Cup.