Jamaican Bobsled Coach Quits Right Before Competition
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - When Jamaica announced in January that it would be sending a women's bobsled team to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, it marked not only a historic moment for the Winter Games but a nostalgic one.
The team was unveiled as a collection of firsts, what with Carrie Russell and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, who piloted for Team USA in the 2014 Sochi Games, headlining Jamaica's debut contingent of female Winter Olympic athletes. And, of course, it also elicited memories of the country's first-ever bobsled team, the men's group that inspired the "Cool Runnings" movie 30 years earlier.
Now, however, just days before their South Korean debut, the women's bobsledders have lost their coach.
Sandra Kiriasis, a former gold medalist for Germany, quit her post at the helm of the team's staff this week after she says she was "forced out" by the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, as BBC reported. And she's apparently threatening to keep the sled that was to be used by Jamaica in the 2018 Winter Games.
Kiriasis was reportedly asked to transition from driver coach to "performance analyst," a role that would not have required direct access to Jamaica's Olympic athletes, and then stepped down as a result. Saying she's "never known such disappointment in this sport in my life," per BBC, she also suggested that her bobsledders "don't understand why this has happened" because of their "good relationship" with her.
Kiriasis has also claimed legal ownership of the team's sled, requesting compensation for its use despite statements by the Jamaican Bobsled Federation (JBF) to the contrary.
From JBF's perspective, the coach's abrupt departure is apparently a welcome one, as president Christian Stokes so explicitly stated:
"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.
We have our high performance director, Jo Manning, and coach, Dudley Stokes, who have been with the team all season and who have been the ones driving performance, so, frankly, things have only improved with her departure.
If you come on the team, you have to be a team player. There are no gods and goddesses here."
Destruction. Synergy. Gods and goddesses.
At the very least, this spices up the screenplay for "Cool Runnings 2."