story from Canwest
Helen Upperton had been to bobsleigh purgatory. Too many times.
Fourth at the Olympics. Fourth at world championships — twice.
“People go through these really tough times, and they go and do something exceptional afterwards,” she said before this season began.
Wednesday night, with Shelley-Ann Brown on the brakes, she was exceptional. They were exceptional. A dramatic Olympic silver medal to make it a 1-2 Canada finish at an electric Whistler Sliding Centre.
“It feels like such a long four years,” said Upperton, a 30-yearold from Calgary who was fourth by 5/100ths in Turin with Heather Moyse pushing. “I’ve actually had more tough times in the sport than good times, but for some reason you only remember the good times.”
And the good times are rolling.
It was a gutsy, confident final run from Upperton who was in a logjam for third through fifth coming down to the wire.
When Cathleen Martini — fourth after three runs — crashed her Germany 2 sled in corner 13, Upperton had a sudden and relatively safe path to the bronze medal laid out.
But she didn’t want to be safe. She wanted to put down the run of her life and heap pressure on USA 2 pilot Erin Pac, who was up next, the second-to-last driver with a 34/100ths edge for silver.
Upperton said in that moment she thought not of the German crash, but of Canadian mogulist Alex Bilodeau and skeleton’s Jon Montgomery, who won gold.
“They went down and they weren’t the last ones,” she said of her fellow athletes. “They did their best performances possible and the people who came down after them couldn’t match it. I thought, ‘That’s how I want to feel.’
“I separated myself from that crash. I didn’t want to play it safe. I love this track and I love going fast. I wanted to put it all out there and not regret anything.”
They came down like a rocket, clocking the fastest time of the final run — 53.17 seconds. With a medal assured, the fourth-place curse lifted, they erupted in celebration. Fist pumps. High fives. Flag waving. So much so, in fact, they missed Pac falter near the top of her run.
“We were so happy we got bronze and by the time we came over [to the TV screen] we saw 6/100ths [of an advantage for Pac] and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, no way,’” said Brown, a 29-yearold from Scarborough, Ont. “And it just kept ticking until we were in the pluses.”
Silver. Upperton collapsed in the leader’s area and Brown met her on the ground for an embrace. Tears streamed.
“It was disbelief,” Upperton said.
There to greet them in celebration was Jenny Ciochetti, who pushed Upperton for much of the last four years. Ciochetti and Brown split the duties this season — one devoid of podiums save for a second place in Altenberg, Germany, in December.
Upperton and Brown wore bracelets that said “4 Jenny Ciochetti with [heart].”
It was Ciochetti who pushed Upperton when the pilot separated rib cartilage two seasons ago and had to start most of the season in the sled.
“There is absolutely no way I would have kept sliding without her,” Upperton said. “She made bobsled fun again. I’m sure part of her heart is broken, but for me she is here sharing it. She came and gave us a big hug. She said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’”
(http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/wanted there regret anything/2610942/story.html#ixzz0sT9MWJnj)