From Hawaii to icy Whistler slides

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Justin Kripps didn't see snow until eight years ago. Next February he could win an Olympic medal as a brakeman for Canada's bobsleigh team.

The 22-year-old from Summerland was born in Na'alehu, Hawaii and is competing at the Whistler Sliding Centre in this weekend's world cup stop. Until he was 14, Kripps spent summer in the Okanagan and winter on the "Big Island." The former Simon Fraser University sprinter was recruited to bobsledding in 2006.

"I went from never having seen a bobsled in person to being on one of the best teams in the world," Kripps said. "It's been such a crazy experience."

Why it's one of the best in the world is driver Pierre Lueders, the 39-year-old, four-time Olympian who won gold at Nagano 1998 and silver at Torino 2006.

"He really knows what to do in any situation," Kripps said. "He's passionate about it and it rubs off on the rest of us."

Kripps said Lueders is encouraging him to try driving when the team returns to Whistler for post-world championship training in March. Kripps was Lueders' brakeman when the duo baptized the Whistler track on Dec. 19, 2007. It's hailed as the fastest track in the world.

Today's events include women's races (1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.) and men's two-man (5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.). The four-man competition is Saturday (4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.). VANOC is advising spectators to come early because of security screening.


Videos

Photos