Pyeongchang, South Korea — Christian Poser is the husband of an American bobsled star. Justin Kripps was born in Hawaii. And the way things are looking, they both could win Olympic two-man medals on Monday night.
Thing is, Poser races for Germany and Kripps drives for Canada.
And the sliders racing for the U.S. didn’t exactly have the same level of success on the opening night of bobsledding at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The German sled driven by Nico Walther and pushed by Poser — whose wife is U.S. women’s driver Jamie Greubel Poser — holds the lead after the first two runs of the two-man event, despite crashing across the finish line in their second run after posting a combined time of 1 minute, 38.39 seconds.
“It’s a little surprising when you crash and they tell you that you’re still in the lead,” Walther said.
Kripps and Alexander Kopacz are in second for Canada, one-tenth of a second back. Germany’s Johannes Lochner and Christopher Weber are third, 0.19 seconds off the lead going into the final two heats.
“I think we have a great shot,” said Kripps, who was born in Hawaii, has lived in about a half-dozen countries, identifies as Canadian and also holds an Australian passport.
Walther and Poser went off the ideal line around the final curve, and gave onlookers a scare with the crash. Both bounced up quickly after the sled came to a stop, giving waves and smiles.
They had much to celebrate.
That wasn’t the case for the Americans. The late Steven Holcomb — whose death in May is still something the U.S. team is grappling with — won bronze in two-man at the Sochi Games four years ago for the first American medal in this event in 62 years, but it’ll be a challenge just to get one sled into the top 10 in Pyeongchang.
Justin Olsen— still recovering from his emergency appendectomy just four days before the opening ceremony — and Olympic rookie Evan Weinstock were the top U.S. sled, sitting in 12th place and more than a half-second out of a medal spot.
Weinstock said he didn’t feel any pressure on his first Olympic stage, and wasn’t surprised that Olsen was fine so quickly after surgery.
“It seems like this whole season we’ve had a lot of setbacks,” Weinstock said. “I just know his mentality and I know how tough he is and I knew he wouldn’t let this be a setback for both of us. I was confident in his ability to get back as close as he could to 100 percent and I think he’s right there.”
Nick Cunningham and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor were 24th for the U.S., one spot ahead of fellow Americans Codie Bascue and Sam McGuffie, the former Michigan football player. They’ll need to rally Monday just to get a fourth run; only the top 20 after the third heat will advance.
“We’re fighting. We’re giving it everything we have,” Olsen said. “I know it’s a longshot for medals and stuff like that, but we’ve got two more runs to battle it out and see how many places we can move up.”
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