Coach runnings: Jamaican bobsled drama could leave women's team without a sled

If the Jamaican bobsled team’s berth in the PyeongChang Olympics is going to be Cool Runnings 2, our heroes just hit their biggest snag right before their debut at the Games.

Sandra Kiriasis, the German coach of the first Olympic Jamaican women’s bobsled team, has reportedly quit just three days before official training begins Saturday at the Alpensia Sliding Center, according to BBC Sport. As if a coach quitting isn’t bad enough, there’s an even worse snag: Kiriasis apparently owned the team’s sled.

Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell of Jamaica speed down the track at the women’s bobsled World Cup race in Innsbruck. (AP Photo)

Given that elite-level bobsled prices can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, missing a sled days before competition is as big an obstacle a team can face. Fortunately, it appears that the Jamaican team might not have to pull out after all, as Jamaican officials denied that Kiriasis owned the sled to the New York Times’ Tariq Panja.

Sled or no sled, Kiriasis’ resignation as coach reportedly stems from her refusal to accept a move from driving coach to track performance analyst, which would have meant no access to bobsledders Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell.

Kiriasis is a veteran of the bobsled circuit, owning a gold medal from the 2006 Olympics in Turin and a silver from 2002 in Salt Lake City. Her experience was likely a boon for the rookies as they made history qualifying for the Games.

“I have never known such disappointment in this sport, in my life,” Kiriasis said, per the BBC.

Whatever is happening behind the scenes, a coach quitting during the Olympics is almost never a good look for anyone. This Jamaican team already faced long odds in a 20-team field, but it’s not like they reached the Olympics without surprising a few people.

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