The Canadian bobsleigh team has withdrawn its teams from this weekend's World Cup races in Altenberg, Germany following Thursday's serious crash in training by the Canada 2 sled piloted by Chris Spring.
Head coach Tom De La Hunty said the decision was made Friday after organizers declined to make safety changes to the corner on which the crash occurred following a review of the incident.
“This is a highly technical track that has a history of crashes,” De La Hunty said. “I reviewed the corner this morning, and the track crew simply replaced the piece of wooden board that was damaged. Repairs to the corner were not enhanced or done to an acceptable safety standard so there are no guarantees the same thing cannot happen again.
“My ultimate responsibility is the health and safety of the team of athletes I represent,” De La Hunty said, adding the athletes were disappointed, but agreed with the decision. “I am simply not comfortable sending them down this track under these conditions, and I am confident this is the right decision for the best interest of our entire team and national program.”
Spring, 27, of Calgary hit the roof coming into corner 16 due to a late entry and continued through the corner; the bobsleigh also made contact with the roll-over barricade as it exited the turn.
Three of the four members of the team sustained what was initially believed to be serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Spring was airlifted to Dresden University Hospital, where he is in stable condition with a broken nose, lacerations and bruises.
Teammate Bill Thomas, 26, was ground transported via ambulance to Dresden University Hospital, where he remained overnight. Thomas is recovering from bruised lungs and minor trauma.
Graeme Rinholm, 26, was ground transported to the local Pirna Hospital with a broken fibula, lacerations to his upper legs, buttocks and underlying musculature. He also remained in hospital overnight for observation.
Toronto’s Tim Randall, 25, sustained only minor injuries.
“This is an extremely unfortunate incident that we are taking very seriously,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “The reality is all high-performance sport has a significant element of risk to it and unfortunately sometimes these incidents occur. That being said, we have complete trust and support in Tom and our experienced staff that they are making the proper decisions to ensure the safety of our athletes.
“Chris and his crew are world-class caliber athletes and their results to date are reflective of that. We’re trying to keep it very positive at the moment and will continue to concentrate on their immediate health.”
The Canadian skeleton team has decided to remain in its competition, held on the same track in Altenberg.
The Canadian bobsleigh team plans to return to competition when the World Cup moves to Konigssee, Germany next week.