Calgary's Chris Spring pushing for bobsleigh gold in Sochi

With 100 days remaining till the Winter Olympics in Sochi, confidence is brimming among Canada's bobsleigh teams.
Chris Spring, who was born in Australia but now lives in Calgary, is driver for one of three Team Canada bobsleigh teams that could land on the podium at the next Olympics. (CBC)
Chris Spring, front, celebrates with his team as they finished third at the four-man bobsleigh World Cup in Whistler in November 2012. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
With 100 days remaining till the Winter Olympics in Sochi, confidence is brimming among Canada's bobsleigh teams.

"We can win. We CAN win," exclaimed driver Chris Spring of Calgary, whose team leaves Monday to train in the Russian city.

Spring, 29, was born in Australia and competed for that country at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where he placed 22nd in the two-man event. He switched to Canada later that year and has since cracked the top ten at World Cup events.

I want the gold. Get me the gold.- Ben Coakwell, brakeman for Team Spring

Riding with him in the four-man event are retired CFL player Jesse Lumsden, former hurdler Cody Sorenson and brakeman Ben Coakwell, who played football at the University of Saskatchewan.

"We want to represent Canada as best we can, and that means medals," Coakwell said Tuesday, as his team unboxed their Team Canada jerseys during a break from weight training.

"I want the gold. Get me the gold."

Canada has never had more than two bobsleigh teams at an Olympics, but this year three teams are likely to qualify. And Spring, along with drivers of the other Canadian teams, Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., and Lyndon Rush of Humbolt, Sask., all have decent shots for medals in Sochi.

Rush, whose four-man team finished with the bronze at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, is currently atop the international two-man ranking, while Spring sits 10th and Kripps 14th.

Following the last Olympics, Team Canada signed a deal with Dutch engineering firm and race-car builders Eurotech Viking Engineering BV to maintain and build bobsleighs. Coakwell says Eurotech considers any of the three teams medal contenders.

"Anyone of us could podium."

Spring looks beyond crash

While Spring tries to keep his focus forward to the Olympics, his mind often drifts back to a harrowing crash in January 2012.

Spring and two of his teammates were sent to hospital after a crash at a World Cup race in Altenberg, Germany. Spring's nose was broken and his right buttock pierced by a spear of wood.

"To say that I never think about it would be a lie," Spring said.

"Just before I'm about to race, when I'm standing at the block and looking down the hill, it might come into my mind."

Spring said his strategy is to deal with the memory as it it comes and "remind myself how good a pilot I am."

Canada's best chance for a bobsleigh medal, however, continues to be the women's event, which became an Olympic sport at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Its two teams dominated the 2010 Games in Vancouver, nabbing the gold and silver.

Calgary's Kaillie Humphries' two-woman team is currently top of the international ranking.


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