Justin Kripps 10th in Olympic 2-man bobsleigh after sharing gold in 2018

Canadian pilot and 2018 Olympic co-champion Justin Kripps was knocked off the bobsleigh medal podium Tuesday at Beijing 2022, placing 10th in the two-man event. Teammate Chris Spring was seventh, while Francesco Friedrich retained his title in a historic German sweep.

Teammate Chris Spring 7th, Francesco Friedrich retains title in historic German sweep

Justin Kripps, left, and Cam Stones finished 10th in men's 2-man bobsleigh at the Beijing Olympics. Kripps and the now-retired Alex Kopacz shared 2018 gold with Francesco Friedrich, who led a German sweep of the medal podium on Tuesday. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

It was a big ask, even for the 2018 Olympic bobsleigh co-champion.

Tenth before the final two runs in Beijing, Canadian pilot Justin Kripps and brakeman Cam Stones probably needed a season-best performance, plus help from others, to make a significant push for the two-man medal podium.

They didn't get either on Tuesday, posting a combined four-time time of three minutes 59.40 seconds to finish 10th at the Yanquing National Sliding Centre.

It was the lowest placing in three Winter Games appearances in the event for Kripps, who was sixth in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

"Not the result we wanted but we put it all out there and gave it our best," Kripps wrote in an Instagram post. "Congrats to everyone on some hard fought racing!"

Germany became the first nation to sweep the podium in an Olympic bobsled race, with Francesco Friedrich — who shared gold with Kripps in Pyeongchang, South Korea — retaining his title in 3:56.89. Johannes Lochner (3:57.38) and Christoph Hafer (3:58:58) grabbed silver and bronze.

Four-time Olympian Chris Spring of Priddis, Alta., was seventh in 3:59.26 to match his best placing from 2014 in Sochi, Russia, while Calgary's Taylor Austin (4:01.36) and Daniel Sunderland of Fort McMurray, Alta., finished 20th in their first Games.

Kripps was trying to become the only Canadian man to win multiple Olympic gold in bobsleigh.

WATCH | Kripps unable to move from 10th in final 2 heats:

Canadian Justin Kripps finishes 10th in 2-man bobsleigh

7 months ago
Duration 2:04
Kripps and brakeman Cam Stones were unable to replicate Kripps' gold-medal sharing performance at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Mistake-filled runs

However, the Summerland, B.C., native will have another chance to medal in the four-man event. The first of Saturday's two heats begins at 8:30 p.m. ET, with Spring driving for Canada.

Kripps and Stones, who finished second to Friedrich in the World Cup standings this season after four podiums, couldn't recover from mistake-filled runs on Monday that left them 10th in the standings and two spots in arrears of Spring.

"You can't afford to do that at the Olympics, you have to be pretty much perfect to have a shot [at a medal]," Kripps, who won two-man gold in 2018 with the now-retired Alex Kopacz, told CBC's Marivel Taruc after his second run. "We're going to look to finish strong [Tuesday]."

On Kripps' final run, his second slowest of four in China at one-minute flat, he hit the wall entering the ninth corner (curve) and another smaller hit into the 12th, but had a clean performance at the bottom of the track, constructed to resemble the shape of a mythical Chinese dragon.

WATCH | Finding balance is key to bobsleigh success for Kripps:

Finding balance is key to bobsleigh success for Justin Kripps

8 months ago
Duration 2:40
After a less than desirable performance in Sochi, Justin Kripps changed his mindset to focus on strength mentally and physically to become a gold medallist, and wants to continue that push in Beijing.

Kripps began Tuesday driving well in the third heat but had trouble going into the ninth curve followed by another hit in the bottom portion, with the back of his sled rising as he hit the wall.

Talk of potential retirement will follow the 35-year-old Kripps after these Games.

"I've decided to wait and make a decision in the summer," he said for a story posted recently to olympic.ca. "It depends on a lot of factors. I'm getting married this summer. I'm sure a lot of people will retire, brakemen will retire and stuff like that, and we'll just see what it looks like."

Spring, 37, held his eighth-place standing with partner Mike Evelyn of Ottawa through three heats and then moved up a spot with a big final run featuring minimal mistakes. Spring placed 22nd and 10th in his previous Olympic appearances.

WATCH | Spring matches career Olympic-best performance:

Spring pilots Canadian sled to 7th place in 2-man bobsleigh

7 months ago
Duration 2:25
Christopher Spring and Mike Evelyn were unable to move up the leaderboard on the final day of 2-man bobsleigh competition.

Germany now has seven gold in sliding at the Beijing Games, more than any nation has ever grabbed from the bobsled, skeleton and luge events at any Olympics.

Start, track records

The Germans also have 12 medals in sliding events so far in Beijing — technically, another record for any nation participating in sledding sports. East Germany and West Germany combined for 12 medals at the 1976 Innsbruck Games.

Friedrich won Germany's ninth gold medal overall at these Games, setting three start records (4.93 seconds the fastest) and two track marks (58.99) along the way on the world's longest artificial bobsled track, which also hosted the luge and skeleton events.

Touted as the greatest bobsledder of all-time, Friedrich has won seven world championships in the two-man event and 13 overall (four in 4-man and two in team competition).

The 31-year-old, who developed a special bond with Kripps after sharing Olympic gold, won seven of eight World Cup events this season and has only lost twice in the past two campaigns.

Lochner, who was fifth in the Olympic two-man in 2018, is a four-time world champion who often finished second to Friedrich, usually with brakeman Florian Bauer.

Monaco grabbed sixth, its best finish ever in an Olympic sporting event, with Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain completing their four runs in 3:59.14.

"They are so far away from everyone," Rinaldi said of the Germans. "We knew it on this kind of track. The longer the track, the less we have a chance. We knew it. They're all good drivers, good pushers. … What they're doing is crazy. Sometimes it may be unfair for us, but this is their sport."

WATCH | Full replay of men's 2-man bobsleigh — Heat 4:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from The Associated Press

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