Spring crashed twice in three attempts.
Canada has withdrawn its bobsled team from this weekend's World Cup races in Altenberg, Germany, citing safety concerns after a crash sent three of the team's sliders to hospitals with serious injuries.
All three sliders — pilot Chris Spring and push athletes Graeme Rinholm and Bill Thomas — are expected to remain hospitalized through at least the weekend. Spring needed to be airlifted to a hospital because of the severity of his injuries, which include deep cuts and bruises, along with a broken nose. Rinholm broke one of his legs and Thomas has bruised lungs and other minor trauma, Canadian officials said.
Spring crashed twice in three attempts to get his four-man sled down the track this week, but Canadian coaches and teammates insisted he is qualified to drive at Altenberg.
Canadian coach Tom de la Hunty said he made the decision to pull the team from the competition, after he said the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation failed to make necessary safety changes to the portion of the track where Spring crashed on Thursday.
"It's unsafe," de la Hunty said. "And basically the FIBT are currently hoping that no one's going to make a mistake. They're not ensuring that no one is going to make a mistake. They are hoping."
The fourth World Cup stop of the season for bobsled and skeleton started Friday in Altenberg, considered by many sliders to be one of the toughest tracks in the world. Canadian racers are competing in skeleton, but not bobsled.
The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is competing as scheduled in Altenberg, with the women's bobsled team of Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo finishing a season-best fifth in Friday's race there. Two other women's sleds that are part of the U.S. World Cup contingent this season did not compete, taking the week off to train in St. Moritz, Switzerland — the site of the 2013 world championships.
"It's my favorite place to slide," said Canadian pilot Lyndon Rush, who was angered by de la Hunty's decision but added that he understood why it was made. "When I go down it in a four-man bobsled, there's no feeling like it. It's the best adrenaline rush."
Rush said if he was given the choice, he would have raced this weekend as scheduled.
Spring's crash took place Thursday in the final curves of the 17-turn track. Rush, who was watching the run on television monitors, said Spring's sled tipped in Curve 15, and that a wave of momentum overpowered the sled from there. Spring's sled struck the wooden roof of the track, causing considerable damage — which was repaired by Friday morning, but was not accompanied with other changes that de la Hunty wanted.
Rush also said it was snowing at the time, adding to the level of difficulty.
"Usually you can tell if a pilot's nervous by their start time and they started really slow, so they were probably quite nervous," Rush said. "And then you add to that the snow that was accumulating on his visor and it probably increased the anxiety a bit."