Respected veteran pilot Chris Spring is parking his sled and hanging up his spikes after a two-decade career highlighted by nine IBSF World Cup medals and four trips to the Olympic Winter Games.
“I’m still so very passionate about bobsleigh. I never knew that I could love a sport so much. The hype with the team and pushing that sled off the line, coupled with driving a bobsleigh and manipulating it to achieve the exact line, gave me a feeling that I often wonder if I will ever find somewhere else in life,” said Spring in a press release. “That feeling was like an addiction for me, and perhaps the reason why I stayed in the sport so long.
"However, the time has come to follow many other passions I have in life. I leave with fond memories, great battles and lifelong friends. For that, I’m thankful, and I’m grateful to have the support of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS), my teammates and coaches along the way.”
Originally from Australia, the now 39-year-old's began in 2007 watching the Canadian Championships while living and working in Calgary. He was immediately hooked and took a driving school the following year. With a newfound Olympic dream in his heart, Spring quickly worked his way through the development circuits.
His first impression of the Whistler Sliding Centre (WSC) came in 2009 at a World Cup event, and he was back a year later racing for Australia at the Vancouver Olympics.
Spring joined Team Canada in 2011 and received Canadian citizenship two years later, paving the way for him to drive two-man and four-man sleds at Sochi, Pyeongchang and Beijing with the Maple Leaf on his uniform. His path was far from easy.
'A great competitor'
During his inaugural full World Cup season in 2011-12, Spring's streak of top-10 results came to a devastating halt when he lost control of his four-man sled during a training run on the technical Altenberg, Germany track. He suffered a major puncture wound to his buttocks and upper leg area from debris that came through the bottom of the sled. The Australian-born Canadian was airlifted to hospital in Dresden, where he received 18 staples to close the wound and remained there for eight days.
Just 10 months after that disastrous crash, Spring and his four-man crew of rookies found themselves celebrating on the WSC finish dock, having completed the comeback with his first World Cup bronze medal.
Pushed throughout his career by some of the greatest brakemen in bobsleigh, including Lascelles Brown, Jesse Lumsden, Neville Wright, Ben Coakwell, Cam Stones, Cody Sorensen, Sam Giguere, Seyi Smith, Alex Kopacz, Bryan Barnett and others, Spring went on to win two gold, one silver and six bronze medals on the World Cup. He also earned a Crystal Globe in 2018 for finishing third in the overall two-man standings: the same year Justin Kripps placed first.
“Spring is a great competitor and teammate. He always lifts up those around him and brings out the best in everyone. The way he could bring together a team to work hard towards a common goal was an inspiration to me and something I learned from him as we competed for many years together,” said Kripps, a two-time Olympic medallist who is now part of the Canadian coaching staff. “While we battled fiercely against each other at times, we made a point to always put Canada first and work together to elevate each other so we could succeed against the best in the world.
"I’ll miss figuring out tracks together and trying out new lines with you, Springer. Congrats on an amazing career and welcome to the retired life!”
Though he admittedly failed to accomplish all of his bobsleigh goals, Spring now turns his attention to operating a different kind of vehicle. With a commercial pilot's license under his belt, he flies seaplanes on the West Coast.
Of course, Spring isn't leaving his favourite sport outright: he'll also work towards his coaching education certification and support young athletes at the WSC in their quest to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.
Spring's continuing thirst for adventure can be seen in his willingness to try new things on the cusp of his 40th birthday. A few weeks ago, he took on the RBC GranFondo (his first road cycling race) alongside retired Olympic snowboarder Darren Gardner.