German bobsled slips by Canuck Rush - Macleans.ca

German bobsled slips by Canuck Rush

But his bronze and a US gold might mean an end to a German era

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With so many golds won by Canadians over the past days, a bronze medal may appear a little off colour.

But Canada-1 pilot Lyndon Rush’s performance today in the four-man bobsled is the first time Canada has made the podium in the event since Innsbruck in
1964.

And the gold secured by our neighbours south of the border—American pilot Steven Holcomb finished first today at the Whistler Sliding Centre—is the first time a U.S. bobsled has beat the world in four-man since the 1948 games in St. Moritz.

The anomaly, which relegated the normally stronger German team under Andre Lange to silver (stealing the second spot from Rush, who’s held it for Canada through the first three runs), has prompted some to wonder whether there isn’t a sea change west underway in the sport.

Consider the women’s two-man, where Canadian drivers Kaillie Humphries and Helen Upperton took the top two spots on the podium respectively, with Erin Pac of the U.S. picking up the rear. Not a German in sight, and one of the three German sleds, piloted by Cathleen Martini, crashed.

But though he acknowledged the stronger women’s teams coming out of Canada and the U.S. these days, the always thoughtful Rush rejected the premise of a North American shift.

“They’re still really strong and this is our backyard, you got to remember,” Rush said of the Germans in a press conference. “If these Olympic games were in Germany, you wouldn’t see me here. You wouldn’t see Holcomb here either. This is in our backyard, it was really in our favour, and the Germans still got a silver. Those guys are so good.”

Rush admitted he was initially disappointed by the result, which saw his crew slip in just .01 seconds behind Germany’s Lange with an overall time of 3:24.85, because he had held his crew’s position in second over the first three runs.

“We had them for three heats and to give it away in the last heat, I was mad,” he said. “We won an Olympic bronze, but I like racing, right? And when you come up short in the last heat, you’re mad. You always want to see a ‘1’ coming down the last heat.”

When Rush, a medal favourite, instead crashed in the second heat of the two-man bob a week ago today, scuttling the race, he apologized to his brakeman, Lascelles Brown. Now, he said, his three brakemen, including Brown, were “trying to cheer me up because they think I’m crazy for being upset.”

This is Brown’s second medal, after winning silver backing Canadian Pierre Lueders in Turin.

Lueders placed fifth today after a disappointing second run yesterday. Lueders followed the effort by storming past reporters in the mix zone swearing. This afternoon he explained he’d been upset because for the first time in his very ling career, two sleds had crashed consecutively before his run, spoiling both his momentum and the sliding track’s ice.

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