Ben Coakwell’s last Olympic experience was a painful one – both literally and metaphorically.
His four-man bobsleigh was involved in a pretty devastating crash that not only injured Coakwell but dashed Canada’s medal hopes in Sochi.
It was also the first time the 30-year-old from Moose Jaw had ever crashed his sled.
“I didn’t even know what was happening at the time … I heard this moment of silence which was really strange and then I’m getting flung out of the back of the slide,” he said in an interview before the Games in Pyeongchang. “It’s not pleasant, as you can imagine going 150 kilometres an hour and then touching your shoulder to the ground, I got some burns, my collarbone came out and tore my (pectoral muscle), it’s just not a great experience at all.”
And it’s no way to end the Olympic dream, which is why Coakwell decided he would be back for Pyeongchang.
“It’s a high-risk sport and the nature of it is that you’re going to crash sometimes when you’re trying to win,” Coakwell explained. “So (the crash) helped me make the most of the four years after that because I want to make sure that I’m perfect so I have done everything I can to prevent something like that from happening. You just have to get back on the horse.”
A natural athlete, Coakwell played every sport he could get his hands on when he was a kid.
His nickname was 10-speed because he could run as fast as he friends on bikes. He played competitive hockey, lived for lacrosse and eventually went to the University of Saskatchewan on a football scholarship.
It was there that he was introduced to bobsleigh when he was approached by Bobsleigh Canada.
“Honestly, the very first time I tried it I loved it so I just said I’m going to drop everything and pursue this. I always had dreams of going to the Olympics … and this was a good opportunity for me to realize this dream,” said the now two-time Olympian.
Coakwell is coming into these Games in a good place. His sled placed second in the world cup leading into the Games. What’s more, Canada has qualified three sleds for the Olympics who all have a shot at the podium.
In fact, that’s exactly what Coakwell is hoping for.
“I think all three teams will tell you the same thing is our goal is to sweep the podium. It seems lofty but there are times this season where we’ve actually had multiple teams on the podium and we don’t see a reason why we can’t replicate that at the Olympics.”
Bobsleigh heats start on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. with the final two running Feb. 24 at the same time.