Germany’s Nolte wins Olympic gold in women’s bobsleigh, Canada’s de Bruin 5th
A poor start in her third run was enough to knock Christine de Bruin off the lead and ultimately leave Canadian and brakeman Kristen Bujnowski off the podium in the Olympic bobsleigh competition on Saturday.
They bounced back with a faster start in the fourth and final run but had a slower finish, placing fifth in a combined time of four minutes 6.37 seconds in the two-woman event at the Yanqing National Sliding Center.
De Bruin was nearly a second behind Elana Meyers Taylor, who clocked 4:05.48 to retain the bronze position with first-time Olympian Sylvia Hoffman for her fourth career medal in the event.
Meyers Taylor is now the most decorated Winter Black Olympian after taking silver in the monobob on Monday.
Germany’s Laura Nolte won gold in 4:03.96, followed by teammate Mariama Jamanka (4:04.73), the 2018 Olympic champion.
American Kaillie Humphries, who won two-man Olympic gold for Canada in 2010 and 2014, finished seventh on Saturday after winning Monday’s monobob, which made its Winter Games debut in China.
Toronto native Cynthia Appiah (4:07.52) started Saturday in eighth place and stayed there for the final two runs, while Melissa Lotholz of Barrhead, Alta., moved up four spots to 12th in 4:08.37 .
A tough third moto from de Bruin extended to Appiah, who repaired some early mistakes and made a good entry into the 12th of 16 turns before hitting the left wall and flipping his sled.
Appiah, who got out of the sled under her own power with brakeman Dawn Richardson Wilson, posted a finish time of 1:01.95.
WATCH | Appiah crashes in the 3rd race coming out of the 13th curve:
Talk of de Bruin and Bujnowski as serious medal contenders at these Games has grown after winning four bronze medals in eight World Cup starts this season following their bronze in a test event in Beijing in October.
Improved physical capacity
The world’s fourth-ranked tandem clicked early after the return of Bujnowski, who sat out last season due to COVID-19 restrictions after straining his right calf. The 29-year-old from Mount Brydges, Ont., showed little rust as she lowered the women’s push record to 5.36 seconds at the Ice House in Calgary ahead of the Olympic test event.
“We always thought we could do it,” de Bruin told CBC Sports a month ago of an Olympic medal, so we’re keeping that mentality.”
De Bruin and Bujnowski had a breakthrough season in 2018-19 with two World Cup silver medals and a world championship bronze medal. A year later, they added another World Cup silver and another world bronze.
Earlier this season, Graham Richardson, team manager and technical driver coach for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, noticed an improvement in the physical abilities of the pair this season.
“Christine tended, when running fast behind the sled, to have a shorter stride length which reduced her speed,” Richardson said of the 32-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta. “In her general training, she has been working on making the steps more powerful. Her start times are improving but, more importantly, the speed is improving.
“Christine knows when to get on the sled to let Buj speed up. It’s so technically difficult to get on the sled [to] adding speed, but working with Jamie McCartney, our pushing coach, they’ve improved a lot.”
However, a 5.51 second start in the third moto was the downfall of de Bruin and Bujnowski on Saturday as Meyers Taylor set a start record of 5.30 to extend her lead over the Canadians to 72-100ths of a second. .
De Bruin and Bujnowski were faster at the start in the fourth set (5.45-5.35) but they were already too far behind Meyers Taylor, the big winner of the World Cup season.