Canada’s de Bruin, Bujnowski takes world championship bronze in women’s bobsled

WHISTLER, B.C. — Canada’s Christine de Bruin is taking a pair of special birthday presents home from the bobsled world championships in Whistler, B.C.

The native of Stony Plain, Alta., slid to silver and bronze medals at the bobsled and skeleton world championships on Sunday, her 30th birthday.

“It feels awesome,” de Bruin said after placing third in the women’s event with Kristen Bujnowski of Mount Brydges, Ont.

They added a silver medal to their haul in the team relay on Sunday night.

After the women’s event, de Bruin’s Canadian teammates smothered her with hugs and had cake waiting at the finish line.

The pair had tallied a four-run time of three minutes 31.25 seconds, finishing 1.17 seconds behind gold medallist Mariama Jamanka and Annika Drazek of Germany.

While world events include just two heats, world championships require athletes to race four times across two days.

Posting consistent times requires staying focused, said de Bruin, who won her first world cup medal — a silver — in Altenberg, Germany, earlier this year.

“That’s mentally so tough,” she said.

“There’s a lot of pressure coming in for us to perform,” Bujnowski added. ”Today we just kind of shook it off.”

The Germans’ third run in the women’s event on Sunday clocked in at 52.01, smashing a track record. But they struggled to control the sled on their final heat.

“We were so proud of ourselves that we made the track record and it was so fast. And then the fourth one was so bad. I nearly cried in the sled,” Jamanka said.

“This was a competition that had everything. The bad, the good. Everything.”

Germany’s Stephanie Schneider and Ann-Christin Strack took silver.

Edmonton’s Alyssia Rissling finished 11th with brakeman Cynthia Appiah of Toronto.

Racing in her first-ever world championship, Kori Hol of Richmond, B.C., finished 14th with Barrhead, Alta., native Melissa Lotholz.

On Saturday, captured silver in two-man bobsled when Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., and Whitby, Ont., native Cam Stones posted a total time of 3:25.13.

They were 0.59 seconds behind Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis who won all eight stops on the world cup circuit this season.

A Canadian squad composed of de Bruin, Bujnowski, bobsledders Nick Poloniato and Keefer Joyce, and skeleteon athletes Dave Greszczyszyn and Mirela Rahneva added another second place finish on Sunday, posting a time of 3:32.00 in the team relay.

They were 0.15 seconds back from the German team that took gold in the event. A group of Americans won bronze.

Another Canadian team — made up of bobsledders Alysia Rissling, Bianca Ribi, Taylor Austin and William Auclair, and skeleton athletes Mark Lynch and Elisabeth Maier — finished seventh with a time of 3:37.08.

For Hamilton, Ont., native Poloniato, anchoring a silver medal-winning squad offered some redemption for a crash in the two-man bobsled event on Friday.

“Definitely lifted my spirits a bit,” he said. ”It’s been a pretty tough week for me, crashing in the two-man race. I’ve been building towards that race all year and I was pretty devastated when that happened.”

There were a number of crashes on Sunday, too, including one in the women’s event that sent American bobsled legend Elana Meyers Taylor and her brakeman Lake Kawaza skidding down the end of the track underneath their sled.

Four additional women’s crews crashed during the team relay.

Chilly weather added to the tough sliding conditions at a Whistler track that’s already notorious for break-neck speeds.

Temperatures hovered around -5 C on Sunday afternoon, making the ice hard and sleds difficult to control.

The conditions didn’t concern de Bruin.

“This is my ice. I love it like this,” she said. “This is what we’ve been training on. All that sticky stuff earlier, I was struggling with. Then today, it was just ‘This is what we know. We’re just going to go out there and do it.’ “

The world championships will continue in Whistler next week with the four-man bobsled and skeleton events.

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