The South Korean bobsleigh duo of Yunjong Won and Youngwoo Seo was racing with heavy hearts on Friday.
Their coach, Malcolm "Gomer" Lloyd, passed away earlier this month after falling ill while on a cruise. The paid tribute days after his death with a third-place finish in Lake Placid, N.Y., but did a couple spots better at Whistler Sliding Centre, posting their first-ever BMW IBSF World Cup win in a thrilling tie with the Swiss sled of Rico Peter and Thomas Amrhein. Both sleds posted a combined time of one minute, 43.41 seconds (1:43.41).
They did it with Lloyd's widow Jeannie Godfrey in attendance, and she stepped up on the podium with them to celebrate.
"It was a very special win. It's the first time I've seen them since my husband passed away," Godfrey said. "He knew that they had it in them and tonight, they proved that.
"It took a little bit of my grief away."
Lloyd, a four-time Olympian, went into coaching after his retirement, including instructing Canada's women.
With the win, Won took over first place in the overall World Cup standings, a sign the host nation will be a force to be reckoned with when it hosts the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
The Swiss team, meanwhile, posted its first podium of the season in a big way, and with Amrhein interpreting, Peter said he knew he still had a chance at the top after sitting fourth after the first run.
"It's not clear after the first run. The finish is always after the second," he said. "We were right close and knew we could do something."
The team was just nine hundredths of a second out of first going into the second run.
The Russian sled of Alexander Kasjanov and Aleksei Pushkarev, which was leading Won and Seo by two hundredths of a second heading into the second run, slipped ever so slightly, finishing a hundredth of a second behind the Koreans and Swiss.
Canada's Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz was in podium position heading into the second runs. The duo posted the fourth-best opening time, but the German sled of Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis withdrew because of a hamstring injury to Friedrich. Friedrich was running third in the race and was the overall points leader heading into Friday's action, but was subsequently passed by five pilots. Kripps struggled in the latter part of the second run, eventually slipping to eighth.
However, the team of Chris Spring and Lascelles Brown overcame an up-and-down first run where they were on a first-place pace early before finishing 11th. In the second run, the pair shot up into what proved to be another tie, evening up with the Latvian duo of Oskars Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskins 0.15 seconds out of first.
The bobsledders will hit the track once again at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
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