November 24, 2020

Three Canadian bobsledders hurt in crash

Pin It

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Three members of the Canadian bobsledding team were hospitalised Thursday after their sled slammed into the roof of the track during a training run.

The crash took place as the Canadian team was practicing for a World Cup event in Altenberg.

“I’ve never seen a sled so destroyed in one go in my 32 years in the sport,” coach Tom de la Hunty told The Associated Press by telephone from the team’s hotel.

He said pilot Chris Spring was taken to the University Clinic in Dresden to have a piece of wood removed from his lower back. Pushman Bill Thomas was in another hospital in Dresden, and Graeme Rinholm was in a hospital in Pirna, closer to the track. A fourth member of the crew, Tim Randall, was
not injured.

Thomas was under sedation and expected to “make a full recovery,” said de la Hunty, who did not have details on Rinholm’s injuries.

Although Randall was not injured, de la Hunty said he was in a “state of shock, really like all of us.”

De la Hunty said the “disastrous” crash took place in turn 16 of the track, often described as one of the most difficult in the world.

The sled, travelling at about 80 mph (130 kph), hit the wooden roof over the course and came crashing back down, but never left the track.

“The entire front part of the sled came off and dragged through the sled with the athletes inside,” de la
Hunty said.

The fourth World Cup stop of the season for bobsled and skeleton is scheduled to begin Friday in Altenberg, with men’s skeleton and women’s bobsledding competitions. Saturday’s schedule includes women’s skeleton and 2-man bobsledding, followed by the 4-man bobsledding event Sunday.

The 27-year-old Spring was born in Australia and represented that country in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics before switching to the Canadian team after that season. He applied for Canadian citizenship even before those Olympics formally ended, saying he was frustrated over the direction of the Australian program and what he described as a lack of funding. Australia pulled out of the four-man event in Vancouver after a series of crashes depleted the team’s roster and left two athletes with concussions.

It was at those Vancouver Games when safety again moved to the forefront of conversations about sliding sports. Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed in a training run and died hours before the opening ceremony, his head smashing into a metal beam after his body sailed over the track wall at nearly 90 mph when he lost control near the finish line.

Heavy snow fell in Altenberg for much of Thursday, and German officials released a statement in the morning saying the weather conditions forced the cancellation of that day’s scheduled skeleton training runs. In the same statement, they said a decision would be made later in the day about whether to allow bobsleds to take their practice runs.

By early afternoon, women’s bobsled training resumed with 12 sleds taking part. German officials later listed the men’s training for the day as “cancelled.”

“I’m sure the weather won’t impact us that much while we are here, or at least it won’t impact me,” Spring wrote on his blog Sunday. “Another new track and a tough one at that so I will be switched on for the best part of the week we are here and no doubt stressing out about all the little things us pilots like to worry about.”

Altenberg is notorious for being one of the most difficult tracks in the world to drive, and athletes for years have clamored for more practice time at the facility.

“The most technically difficult track on the circuit,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer once said of Altenberg, in former East Germany.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind