CALGARY (January 20, 2022) – Three skeleton athletes along with a full fleet of 18 bobsledders will ship out to Beijing on a mission to deliver podium performances at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton nominated a high-powered team replete with veteran leadership and first-time Olympians who combined to win 76 World Cup and five World Championship medals over the last four years in the two sliding sports.
Olympic veterans Jane Channell and Mirela Rahneva – who both have multiple World Cup medals on their resume – will join 20-year old rookie Blake Enzie at the skeleton start line in Beijing.
“Being named to my first Olympic Team is such a surreal moment. I’ve sacrificed so much and worked so hard for this goal, and for it to be achieved is such a magical thing,” said Enzie. “I remember watching the Vancouver 2010 Games as a kid and dreamt that one day I would be competing at the Olympics. Now that day has come,” said Enzie.
The skeleton athletes and coaches nominated are:
Jane Channell (North Vancouver, B.C.) – Women’s Skeleton
Blake Enzie (Calgary, Alta.) – Men’s Skeleton
Mirela Rahneva (Ottawa, Ont.) – Women’s Skeleton
Keith Loach (Calgary, Alta.) – Coach
Ivo Steinbergs (Latvia) – Coach
Fresh off winning three Crystal Globes on the World Cup circuit this year, Canada qualified 18 athletes to fill the maximum number of women’s and men’s bobsleighs for the second straight Olympic Winter Games. Germany is the only other nation to do so.
Team Canada will have three sleds fully prepared for the two-woman, two-man and four-man bobsleigh races in addition to being one of two nations to have two sleds in the women’s monobob race which will make its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022.
The bobsleigh athletes and coaches nominated are:
Christine de Bruin (Stony Plain, Alta.) – Women’s Pilot
Kristen Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.) – Women’s Crew
Cynthia Appiah (Etobicoke, Ont.) – Women’s Pilot
Dawn Richardson Wilson (Edmonton, Alta.) – Women’s Crew
Melissa Lotholz (Barrhead, Alta.) – Women’s Pilot
Sara Villani (Norval, Ont.) – Women’s Crew
Erica Voss (Toronto, Ont.) – Alternate
Niamh Haughey (Scarborough, Ont.) – Alternate
Justin Kripps (Summerland, B.C.) – Men’s Pilot
Ben Coakwell (Moose Jaw, Sask.) – Men’s Crew
Ryan Sommer (White Rock, B.C.) – Men’s Crew
Cam Stones (Whitby, Ont.) – Men’s Crew
Christopher Spring (Priddis, Alta.) – Men’s Pilot
Mike Evelyn (Ottawa, Ont.) – Men’s Crew
Sam Giguere (Sherbrooke, Que.) – Men’s Crew
Cody Sorensen (Ottawa, Ont.) – Men’s Crew
Taylor Austin (Lethbridge, Alta.) – Men’s Pilot
Jay Dearborn (Yarker, Ont.) – Men’s Crew
Chris Patrician (Scarborough, Ont.) – Men’s Crew
Daniel Sunderland (Fort McMurray, Alta.) – Men’s Crew
Cyrus Gray (Duncan, B.C.) – Alternate
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (Scarborough, Ont.) – Alternate
Todd Hays (Del Rio, United States) – Head Coach
Jamie McCartney (Smithers, B.C.) – Coach
Elfje Willemsen (Vorselaar, Belgium) – Coach
Lyndon Rush (Humboldt, Sask.) – Coach
Days removed from finishing fourth in both the two-woman and monobob standings, Christine de Bruin will make her second trip to the Games where she will lead two pilots who will compete in their first Olympic Winter Games in the front seat. Melissa Lotholz, who was a brakewoman at PyeongChang 2018, will be on the two-woman starting block, while Cynthia Appiah will also fulfill her Olympic dream. An alternate brakewoman in 2018, Appiah earned her Olympic spot after a stellar rookie season on the World Cup as a driver, highlighted by winning four medals and a Crystal Globe for finishing third overall in World Cup monobob racing this year.
All three pilots will compete in the two-woman race. De Bruin and Appiah qualified to compete in the monobob races based on international rankings.
The three pilots will have a pool of explosive brakewomen who will all make their Olympic debuts including multiple World Cup and World Championship medallist Kristen Bujnowski, along with Dawn Richardson Wilson and Sara Villani. Erica Voss and Niamh Haughey will join them as alternates.
“Four years ago, I was selected to be an alternate at the 2018 Games. I have many great memories from that experience, but I knew I was capable of more,” said Bujnowski. “I have been motivated ever since to be on the start line in 2022 rather than at the side of the track. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I am proud to be named to Team Canada and now have the opportunity to compete in Beijing. It is honestly a dream come true.”
Justin Kripps will head to Beijing on a mission to successfully defend his Olympic two-man title. His medal-winning crew that celebrated second-place overall finishes in both race disciplines on the World Cup this year remain laser focused on challenging for the Olympic four-man podium.
Christopher Spring will make his fourth trip to the Games as a pilot, while longtime development pilot Taylor Austin will make his Olympic debut.
A highly motivated crew of nine brakemen from across the country will provide the horsepower for the three Canadian men’s sleds.
Olympic veterans Ben Coakwell, Cam Stones, and Cody Sorensen headline a talented group of first-time brakemen including: Ryan Sommer; Mike Evelyn; Chris Patrician; Dan Sunderland; along with current and former CFL players, Sam Giguere and Jay Dearborn. Cyrus Gray was named as an alternate with another gridiron pro, Shaquille Murray-Lawrence.
The worlds of sport, art and maritime will come together on Canada’s skeleton sleds and bobsleighs as they charge down the track at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
Motivated by a longstanding relationship between Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and the Canadian Armed Forces, the athletes will give a nod to the history of Canada’s Navy while partnering with the Royal Canadian Navy to create a truly unique sled design.
“Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton is tremendously proud to be associated with the Royal Canadian Navy, which has a long, strong and honourable tradition of supporting and defending our country.” said Sarah Storey, President, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
“Whether on the ice or at sea, the distinction of putting on a Canadian uniform drives commitment to the training, preparation, perseverance and teamwork required to perform under immense pressure while representing your country. Sailors and athletes apply their tremendous skill – while working with specialized and purposefully designed equipment – to execute their missions with precision. We are united by the goal of making our team unstoppable, and our country proud.”
The design theme on the sleds features the Second World War-era Admiralty Disruptive Paint. This heritage paint scheme honours the sacrifices Canadian sailors made in the Second World War and the Battle of the Atlantic and celebrates those who continue to serve today.
Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes qualified for Team Canada based on their international ranking over the last two seasons.
Team Canada has won nine Olympic bobsleigh medals and four Olympic skeleton medals.
Bobsleigh will take place February 13 to February 20 (Days 9 to 16) and skeleton will take place February 10 to February 12 (Days 6 to 8), both at the Yanqing Sliding Centre.
“I am so pleased to welcome the bobsleigh and skeleton athletes that will be sliding for Canada in Beijing,” said Catriona Le May Doan, Team Canada’s Beijing 2022 Chef de Mission. “This team brings with it incredible leadership, experience and resilience. The veterans have been wonderful role models for the rookies and we are so excited to see you compete in Beijing. Canada has been a force on the international stage since 2018 and we will be cheering you all on in the beautiful sleds that represent the partnership with the Royal Canadian Navy. We celebrate all of those that dare to wear the maple leaf.”
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organizations.
Photo and story courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee.