De Bruin, Bujnowski reunite on Beijing track, slide to bobsleigh bronze medal

Canada's Christine De Bruin and Kristen Bujnowski delivered lightning-quick starts in their two runs to post a third-place time of two minutes 5.38 seconds in two-woman bobsleigh at Tuesday's Olympic test event in Beijing.

Canadian teammates place 4th in 4-man competition at Olympic test event

Christine De Bruin, right, followed up her fourth-place finish in monobob on Monday by teaming with fellow Canadian Kristen Bujnowski, left, for a bronze-medal performance in Tuesday's 2-woman bobsleigh at an Olympic test event in Beijing. (Twitter/@BobCANSkel)

Christine De Bruin and Kristen Bujnowski appear ready to build on their world championship success after spending last year apart on the bobsleigh track.

The Canadian duo delivered lightning-quick starts in their two runs to post a third-place time of two minutes 5.38 seconds in the two-woman race at Tuesday's Olympic test event in Beijing.

"I am loving this track," the 32-year-old De Bruin, who was fourth in Monday's monobob race, told Canada Bobsleigh Skeleton. "It has been so fun figuring it out. It has proven to be a mixture of a driver's track and a push track."

Bujnowski, who spent the entire 2020-21 season nursing an injury, provided the power on the 16-corner track at Yanqing National Sliding Centre while De Bruin thrives on technical courses from the driver's seat.

"It is an amazing start to the season. I knew our pushes were getting better, but I was not expecting the second- and fastest-start times today," said Bujnowski, who posted record-setting starts during testing in the Canadian squad's training facility in Calgary this fall.

"Christine and I have both improved physically, but this result shows the value of constantly pushing together for many years now. We really believe in each other, and I think we can expect a great season."

De Bruin and Bujnowski, 29, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2019, winning two silver medals on the World Cup circuit before capturing world bronze. They added another World Cup silver and world bronze a year later.

"I had a hard time last year. Buj wasn't able to join us on Tour, and with COVID-19, it just didn't seem like anything would go our way," said De Bruin. "To have her back, and to push the fastest time of the day, shows there is a lot of good stuff to come this season.

"It is a long season, so this is just one of many benchmarks to check off in our overall goals."

4th place 'not what we had hoped for'

On Tuesday, the Canadians finished behind a pair of German sleds, led by Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi, who clocked 2:04.99 for the win. Mariama Jamanka and Vanessa Mark stopped the clock in 2:05.21.

Melissa Lotholz of Barrhead, Alta., and former ringette player Erica Voss of Etobicoke, Ont., placed sixth (2:05.97) among 20 teams and one spot ahead of Toronto's Cynthia Appiah and Edmonton's Dawn Richardson Wilson (2:06.20).

In four-man bobsleigh, Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., and his crew of Ryan Sommer (White Rock, B.C.), Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.) and Ben Coakwell (Saskatoon) narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place effort for a second consecutive day.

"A fourth-place finish isn't exactly what we had hoped for," Sommer said after the team's 2:00.02 effort. "We had three solid weeks of training here on the new track, and we were able to prepare and develop a game plan for the main event here later in February that we believe will lead to success when the time comes."

Sitting fourth after their opening run, the Canadians were on the podium hunt in their second and final run after posting the second-fastest start time in the heat but finished 13-100ths of a second shy of a medal.

Three-time Olympian Chris Spring of Calgary piloted the other Canadian sled, guiding his crew of Sam Giguere (Sherbrooke, Que.), Cyrus Gray (Duncan, B.C.), and Mike Evelyn (Ottawa) to 12th place in 2:00.65.

Like the two-woman event, Germany occupied the top two spots on the podium. Francesco Friedrich, Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller recorded a winning time of 1:59.23, followed by Johannes Lochner, Christopher Weber, Georg Fleischhauer, and Christian Rasp in 1:59.53.

Latvia's Oskars Kibermanis, Davis Springis, Matiss Miknis and Krists Lindenblats secured bronze in 1:59.89.

Tuesday's races marked the end of the three-week international training block at the Olympic track.

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