Kripps raced to a golden tie with a heavy heart
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 20, 2018 8:11AM EST
PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of -- The call came just a few days before Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripps was scheduled to race at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
It was his mother, who had sad news. His 94-year-old grandmother, Marie Harrison, had died.
Stoic on and off the track, Kripps chose to keep the news to himself and focus on the task at hand, but she was on his mind as he secured a dramatic gold-medal tie in the two-man event Monday night.
"I decided to just kind of keep it quiet for the moment and just personally reflect on that for a bit and dedicate the race to her," the 31-year-old from Summerland, B.C., said Tuesday.
At his second Olympics as a pilot, Kripps and 28-year-old brakeman Alex Kopacz of London, Ont., tied Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis with a combined four-run time of three minutes 16.86 seconds.
The fact there was nothing to choose from between the two sleds over more than 5.5 kilometres of track still had Kripps and Kopacz buzzing Tuesday when they met reporters about 14 hours after crossing the finish line.
"You see that one on the clock and you think you've won it and that's it," said Kopacz, an Olympic rookie. "It took me much longer to figure out that we'd tied it, which I think is a beautiful thing in of itself -- the Olympic spirit.
"They are tremendous competitors and I think it's an honour we're able to share it with such a tenacious team."
Canada's only other Olympic medal in men's two-man also ended in a tie at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, when Pierre Lueders matched the time of an Italian sled.
Kripps, who was taught the piloting basics by Lueders from 2010 to 2012 and will compete in the four-man beginning Saturday, lost his grandmother on his father's side in advance of his first World Cup victory as a pilot in Konigssee, Germany, in 2014.
He was thankful Harrison got to see him walk into an opening ceremony at the Olympics for a third time before she died.
And there was one parting prediction she shared with her grandson before he left for South Korea.
"She picked me to win gold in the two-man, so she was still pretty sharp in her final days," Kripps said with a smile. "I was really happy we could get it done in her honour."