- Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images For IBSF
- Jamaica was set to make history at Pyeongchang 2018, with the country’s first women’s bobsled team.
- The debut woulc come 30 years after the Jamaican men’s team made their debut at the Calgary games.
- Unfortunately, the team is now clouded in drama after the apparent ousting of the team’s driving coach Sandra Kiriasis.
- Kiriasis has reportedly claimed ownership of the team’s equipment, which some thought might put the team’s debut at risk, but other reports claim that the Jamaican team will run as scheduled.
Jamaica was set to make history at the Winter Olympics next week, with their first women’s bobsled team representing the country at Pyeongchang 2018, 30 years after the Jamaican men’s bobsled team made similar history at the Calgary Winter Games.
But in the past few days a unexpected bit of drama has put the team’s debut in potential jeopardy.
On Wednesday, the team’s coach and former bobsled champion Sandra Kiriasis resigned under somewhat confusing circumstances. According to a report from the BBC, Kiriasis said that the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation forced her out of her role as driving coach and asked her to instead take up the position of track performance analyst. That move would have kept her from interacting directly with the team’s athletes, Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell.
Kiriasis quit after refusing the role change, and said of the move, “I’ve never known such disappointment in this sport, in my life.”
“The athletes have told me they don’t understand why this has happened as they have no problem with me and we have a good relationship,” she said.
Adding to the drama is the fact that Kiriasis has said that it was her contacts that secured the team’s sled, and is apparently refusing to allow the team to use the sled until the JBSF pays for it. The JBSF is disputing Kiriasis’ claim of ownership of the sled, and insists that the team will compete as planned.
JBSF president Christian Stokes also had some unkind words for Kiriasis on her departure, telling Reuters, “The lady was a hugely destructive force on the team. Now that she is off the team, synergy is much better, tension is down and athletes are now able to focus in a much healthier environment.”
As things stand, NBC says that the team will compete as scheduled, despite initial reports of Kiriasis claiming ownership of the team’s equipment. If it happens, history will still be made, but what should have been a celebration of the moment for the athletes will now be clouded by this unfortunate bit of drama, at no fault of the athletes themselves.
Jamaica is scheduled to start practice runs on Saturday, with qualifying heats set for Tuesday.