Canada's Rush wins bronze in 4-man bobsleigh

Lyndon Rush won bronze in the four-man bobsled race at a World Cup event Saturday, finishing off a big weekend for Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes.
Canada's Lyndon Rush pilots himself along with Jesse Lumsden, Cody Sorensen and Neville Wright during the first run of the four-man bobsleigh at the FIBT World Cup. (The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)

Canada's Lyndon Rush is ending the bobsleigh World Cup season on a tear.

A day after winning the gold medal in the two-man event, Rush and his crew took bronze in the four-man event Saturday at a World Cup event at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Rush, of Humbolt Sask., teamed with Jesse Lumsden (Burlington, Ont.), Cody Sorensen (Ottawa), and Neville Wright (Edmonton), clocked a two-run time of one minute 42.62 seconds.

"We were in the mix and we haven't been in the mix all year so I like where things are headed," Rush said. "It was a good weekend overall."

Russia's Alexsandr Zubkov earned the gold medal with a time of 1:42.46 while teammate Alexander Kasjanov and his four-man crew clocked in at 1:42.60 for a second-place finish.

Zubkov leads the standings by 75 points ahead of Germany's Maximillian Arndt. Defending champion Manuel Machata of Germany is third and Rush stands 10th.

"We had a rough start clicking in the four-man this year, but made big strides in St. Moritz and stepped it up here," said Lumsden, who helped the crew post the fastest push in the second heat at 4.74 second. "In terms of a team level this is huge for us. To have the fastest push of the day is also huge because on paper we have some great athletes and there is no reason we shouldn't be like that every week."

Canada's bobsleigh and skeleton athletes won five World Cup medals over the weekend. Melissa Hollingsworth won gold in the women's skeleton, and in women's bobsleigh Kaillie Humphries and Emily Baadsvik won gold while teammates Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown took bronze.

Canada's rookie driver Justin Kripps of Kelowna, B.C., made his four-man World Cup debut with crew Timothy Randall (Toronto), James McNaughton (Newmarket, Ont.) and Derek Plug (Calgary) in 18th spot in 1:33.33.

"I wanted to do better than I did but the learning curve has been really steep for me. I only started driving last year and Whistler is a tough track but I thought we did okay under the circumstances," Kripps said. " It's coming and it is there for the future, we just need a bit more practice."

Kripps' debut is the result of tragedy for friend and teammate Chris Spring, who was involved in a season-finishing crash on Jan. 5 at Altenberg, Germany. Crewmember Randall was the only athlete from that four-man crew able to continue the season.

The Canadian team will now head to Calgary for the final World Cup event of the season next weekend.

Canada's success at Whistler was partially attributed to the track itself. Tracy Seitz, venue manager says the track has given Canadian athletes an edge on the world stage.

"I think we have one of the best facilities in the world for developing athletes. When you get this track under control, every other track in the world seems to slow down," Seitz said. "It's a huge advantage for our Canadian teams."

Earlier in the week former athlete and Canadian bobsleigh development coach Pierre Lueders said the track is the reason for expediting athlete development in Canada. It is a sentiment that younger members of the national team such as Kripps agrees with.

"In my opinion we are lucky to have this track in Canada. In the summer we can come out here and get some real intense training on a technical fast track," Kripps said. "Everything is slower in your mind after being in a place like this."