Taylor Austin Pilots Canadian Bobsleigh Crew to Bronze at Whistler World Cup
WHISTLER, B.C.—Canada’s Taylor Austin and his crew shocked the world by winning their first career bobsleigh World Cup medal, sliding to the bronze on Saturday afternoon in Whistler, B.C.
Competing in just his second World Cup ever, the 32-year-old Austin (Calgary) teamed up with Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (Scarborough, Ont.), Cyrus Gray (Duncan, B.C.), and Davidson de Souza (Calgary) for the bronze-medal breakthrough.
The lone Canadian sled in the field rocketed to a two-run time of 1:42.37 on the demanding 1,694-metre Olympic track that meanders down Blackcomb Mountain.
“This is just awesome. We are super stoked to pull out a podium here,” said Austin at the finish dock. “I didn’t have the cleanest second run, but I just let it fly and I’m happy we made it down and across the finish line.”
The rookie Canadian crew were in unfamiliar territory, sitting in second place after their first trip down the 16-corner track.
“The first run was a pretty good run. It is good to see we can have two consistent runs and reach the podium,” said Austin. “The guys were focused today. They were ready to lay it down on the line. They trusted themselves pushing and loading and put their trust in me to get us down as fast as possible and it worked out.”
“We knew what we had to do today so we put everything on the line, and we got it done,” added 28-year-old crewman, Cyrus Gray.
Great Britain’s Brad Hall, Greg Cackett, Arran Gulliver and Taylor Lawrence leaped over the Canadians in the final run for second place at 1:41.98.
The winner of the last two Olympic four-man races – Francesco Friedrich, Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller – were tops in both heats. The German crew clocked a winning time of 1:41.56.
The podium performance secured Taylor Austin a full-time spot on the National Bobsleigh Team.
“It was definitely a thought going into this race. We knew this World Cup on home ice was likely our best shot for a podium,” said Austin. “Being in second place after the first run added a lot of pressure because we were actually in a spot to attain a podium.
“I had a lot of pressure on me at the top, but I talked to Coach (Lyndon) Rush between runs, and he told me ‘Don’t get distracted by the medals – focus on one point at a time, me versus me, and then where we end up, we end up.’ I’m so pumped it worked out.”
Team Austin followed a handful of legendary Canadian sleds to the bronze medal step of the four-man bobsleigh podium at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Saturday’s breakthrough made him just the fourth Canadian crew ever to win a World Cup medal on the demanding Olympic Track.
His coach on Saturday, Lyndon Rush, was the first Canadian to reach the four-man podium in Whistler when he made history at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He matched the bronze-medal performance at the 2012 World Cup on home ice.
Four-time Olympian, Chris Spring, who was doing the colour commentary of Austin’s memorable run on Saturday, captured the first podium of his World Cup career on the Whistler track in the 2012-13 season. Justin Kripps’ crew reac
hed the third step of the World Cup podium in 2017, and again at the 2019 World Championships.
“Those guys are all idols for me. They paved the way for me,” said Austin. “I have learned a tremendous amount from those guys. All of the stuff that I have learned from them I was able to apply today. To be mentioned alongside them is pretty great, and very special to me.”
The Canadian crew capped off a triple medal weekend for a new generation of Canadian bobsledders.
Calgary’s Bianca Ribi struck gold in her first ever World Cup monobob race on Saturday. She was joined on the podium by second-year pilot on the World Cup, Cynthia Appiah.
The Canadian women were back on the starting block Saturday morning for the two-women races.
Ribi and Niamh Haughey, of Whitby, Ont., placed fifth at 1:46.82. Toronto’s Cythia Appiah and Leah Walkeden (Ardrossan, Alta.), joined forces for a sixth-place finish at 1:47.16.
Germany’s Kim Kalicki and Anabel Galander won the gold medal with a time of 1:45.93.
The IBSF World Cup bobsleigh and skeleton circuit now travels to Park City, Utah.
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Karbon and Joe Rocket Canada – along with the Government of Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.
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