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Aussies get their Olympic chance

24 February 2010

The Australian women’s bobsleigh crew of Astrid Loch-Wilkinson and Cecilia McIntosh have put down two clean, strong runs in the first day of competition at the Whistler Sliding Centre to finish the day in 19th place.

Just over a week ago, the spritely duo won over the hearts of Aussies everywhere as they appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against their non-inclusion in the Olympic competition. The appeal was upheld and the agonising wait for the team was over.

“It was pretty good,” McIntosh said of finally competing in the Games. “I was pumped and I think Astrid was pretty pumped and in warm-up we were firing.”

“It was so much fun seeing packs of Aussies there,” Loch-Wilkinson added. “Obviously when we race normally there are no Aussies anywhere to watch and no family and friends…it’s so great and so exciting for us.”

Starting in 21st place in what was originally a 20-crew field, Loch-Wilkinson and McIntosh received a rowdy cheer as they launched into their first run. With heavy snow falling on the track however, conditions were not in the Australian crew’s favour.  

“We were last on the start list and the more snow that’s in the track slows you down and we also would have had the worst ice as it gets chewed up as the sleds go down,” Loch-Wilkinson said.

For their first run, the plucky Aussies clocked 54.85 seconds, 1.66s off the leading crew.

After a reordering of the start list, Loch-Wilkinson and McIntosh found themselves back at the top of the track, the first crew to commence the second run after little rest.

Bad timing at the push meant the team did not get off to the best of starts, something Loch-Wilkinson puts down to human error, the loud crowd and ‘a bit of bad luck’.

In the first run they were able to recover from a poor start, however the second was not so smooth, with the sled colliding heavily into the wall in the second half of the track.

“I had a bit of a not so nice exit off 11 and my visor flew off,” Loch-Wilkinson said.

“So I had to drive the last few corners with a lot of wind in my face. It’s a really hard corner and our sled is quite heavy so it gets a lot of pressure at the end of that corner and it’s really hard to steer it off.”

Despite the heavy hit, the Australian duo finished the run in a faster time of 54.66, ending the first session in 19th place ahead of two other sleds.

Defending Olympic champion Sandra Kirasis of Germany was ranked number one on the World Cup standings going into today’s competition however after two runs, she and her crewman Christin Senkel were out of the podium places.

It was the Canadian crew of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse who stole the show, finishing first in both runs to leave them with an accumulated time of 1:46.20. USA 2 and Germany 2 rounded out the places.

Competition will resume on Day 13 – Wednesday 24 February (Vancouver time) with all 21 crews completing two more runs to decide the medals.

When asked what they will do to get ready for tomorrow’s racing the girls were focused yet jovial.

“We’ll get the runners ready, get as much food and sleep and rest into us as possible,” McIntosh said.

And the pilot?

“I’m going to superglue my visor back on,” Loch-Wilkinson said with a laugh.

Alice Wheeler
AOC – Whistler


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