Canada’s Justin Kripps Takes Bobsleigh to the Streets for Unique Summer Race in Germany
August 14, 2014
—Kripps and brakeman, Ben Coakwell, continue to find creative ways to promote unique winter sport—
CALGARY—Canadian Olympic bobsleigh pilot, Justin Kripps, will replace the runners on his sled for wheels and hit the streets of downtown Huckeswagen, Germany for a truly unique summer bobsleigh race, August 22-24.
The 27-year-old Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., and one of his Olympic brakeman, Ben Coakwell of Saskatoon, will be among 11 nations that will blast through the party of more than 20,000 people that will fill the downtown core of the German town to watch the world’s best steer down a winding, hilly street at speeds topping 80 km/h.
It is the fourth time the small Bergisches Land town has hosted a pre-season summer competition. It is the first time Canada and the United States will each send a team to the event. Olympic champion, Steven Holcomb of the United States, will also be making the trip to Germany.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity to promote our sport in a fun, party-like environment with thousands of people watching during the summer months,” said Kripps. “It will be great to catch up with a lot of the top athletes and see where they are at, but also to get a race in when things are a little more relaxed.”
In addition to the race and outdoor festival, a push competition will also be held at night on August 22.
“The push competitions are so fun, and such a great way to showcase the strength, power and speed of the athletes. I think it is important for us to be there to support the sport, but also encourage athletes from around the world to come to our push competition in Canada that we started last year,” added Kripps.
One of the rising stars on the international bobsleigh scene, Kripps is no stranger to finding unique ways to promote his sport. One year ago, he and Canadian teammate Jesse Lumsden, launched a funding drive with a tongue-in-cheek video prior to the start of the World Cup season titled, “We Push Stuff”
Loaded with creativity and humour, the video http://youtu.be/friF6s2z4cg plays on the duo’s need for cash in their pursuit of Olympic gold. In addition to creating a few laughs, the goal was to inspire individuals and corporations to open their wallets and help push them to victory.
“Sport has evolved into big business, but I think it is important to remember that it should also be fun. Like this summer bobsleigh competition, it was our hope the video would create some additional excitement and interest in our unique sport amongst Canadians, while also capturing the attention of corporate executives that would be interested in joining us for this exciting ride in addition to gaining enormous exposure for their brand. Bobsleigh often flies under the radar so I think it is important that we continue to find creative ways to market ourselves and the sport to Canadians.”
Funding for an athlete’s annual budget comes from a variety of avenues. Personal sponsorships and speaking opportunities are a core component to covering the many annual expenses that high-performance athletes face for both training and competition.
Kripps has been stealing headlines on the track as well over the last year. A member of Pierre Lueders’ four-man sled at the 2010 Olympics, Kripps jumped into the driver’s seat following the Vancouver-Whistler Games where he developed his piloting skills on tracks around the world for three years. Last year, he turned heads on the international circuit with his first World Cup victory in Konigssee, Germany – just weeks before the 2014 Games. He was the top Canadian sled in Sochi, finishing sixth in the two-man event.
The long, winding track to Pyeongchang 2018 begins next week for Kripps on wheels during a winter sports weekend in the height of summer. The festival-like weekend will also include a wide range of events including shows, autograph sessions and live music.