January 5, 2012
Canadian bobsledders hospitalized after crash
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Three Canadian bobsled athletes are in hospital after a violent crash during a training run in Altenberg, Germany.
Pilot Chris Spring's four-man sled hit the head wall entering corner 16 at one of the toughest bobsled tracks in the world.
The sled then redirected down and hit the bottom barrier, which shot it out towards the exit wall. The force of the impact destroyed the sled, and the debris caused the bulk of the injuries.
None of the injuries are life-threatening. Spring was airlifted to Dresden with a severe laceration to his back.
Brakemen Bill Thomas of Queensville, Ont., and Graeme Rinholm of Saskatoon, Sask., were sent to nearby hospitals. The fourth member of the crew, Toronto's Tim Randall, managed to walk away from the wreck.
"At this point in time, all the athletes are being taken care of," Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton's CEO Don Wilson said.
"Debris in the sled ended up cutting them and in the pilot's case ended up in him."
Spring, who is originally from Darwin, Australia, took up the sport in 2008 at Canada Olympic Park by completing the Canadian driving school. The Calgary resident competed for Australia at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
Altenberg is the fourth stop on the World Cup circuit with races scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Spring and his crew have three top-10 finishes this season.
Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton high-performance director Nathan Cicoria said it doesn't appear that weather conditions contributed to the accident.
At this point in time, there is no timetable on how long Spring and his crew will take to recover from their injuries.
"These athletes are extremely lucky," Cicoria said. "We're fortunate to be in this position.
"At the same time, it's incredibly unfortunate this happened. In any crash, regardless to damage to the sled and environmental conditions, it should be taken seriously.
"The sled being in the condition it is in, the boys are very lucky."