PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s Justin Kripps was closing on his first Olympic gold medal in the two-man bobsleigh final on Monday as German sleds in second and third place threatened to spoil his party with one run left.
Ahead of the final run, the fastest five pilots were separated by a quarter of a second.
Kripps and brakeman Alexander Kopacz clocked two minutes, 27.58 seconds over their three runs, with Germany’s four-times world champion Francesco Friedrich 0.06 seconds behind.
Friedrich’s team mates Johannes Lochner and brakeman Christopher Weber were in third place.
After leading heats one and two, a slow run by Germany’s Nico Walther sent the 27-year-old down to fifth place at the Olympic Sliding Centre.
Kripps tops the world driver rankings and is bidding to bring home Canada’s second gold medal in the two-man competition after Pierre Lueders’ victory at Nagano in 1998.
If a German pair wins in Pyeongchang, the country will equal Switzerland’s Olympic record five golds in the event.
Sochi gold medallist Oskars Melbardis of Latvia matched his position in the first two heats to finish fourth.
United States pilot Justin Olsen, who underwent an emergency appendix operation on Feb. 5, finished heat three in 12th place.
The 30-year-old was back on the ice track 10 days later.
“I feel good, I feel powerful,” Olsen said. (Reporting by James Pearson, editing by Ed Osmond)