Chris Spring was all in, all the time as a bobsleigh pilot, so it was with mixed feelings that he declared himself past the finish line as a competitor.
The 39-year-old, who was born in Australia but reached his peak for Canada, announced his retirement on Thursday. With four Olympics appearances and nine World Cup medals now in the rear view mirror, he looks ahead to twin careers in aviation and coaching.
“I’m still so very passionate about bobsleigh,” he said. “I never knew that I could love a sport so much. The hype with the team and pushing that sled off the line, coupled with driving a bobsleigh and manipulating it to achieve the exact line, gave me a feeling that I often wonder if I will ever find somewhere else in life,” said Spring. “That feeling was like an addiction for me, and perhaps the reason why I stayed in the sport so long. However, the time has come to follow many other passions I have in life. I leave with fond memories, great battles and lifelong friends. For that, I’m thankful, and I’m grateful to have the support of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, my teammates and coaches along the way.”
Spring was living in Calgary in 2007 and was intrigued when he watched the Canadian Bobsleigh Championships at Canada Olympic Park. He quickly worked his way through the sport’s development circuits and first appeared at the 2010 Olympics for Australia. He became a full time member of the Canadian national team a year later and represented his new country at the 2014, 2018 and 2022 Olympics.
Spring also won two gold, one silver and six bronze medals on the World Cup tour, as well as a Crystal Globe in 2018 for finishing third overall in the two-man standings.
He never managed to win an Olympic medal, and that’s a small regret. But he also leaves on his own terms, ready to develop his career as an airplane pilot, while also dedicating himself to coaching a new generation of bobsleigh athletes.
“I hope my story and journey is proof to others that you can create your own path,” he said. “No matter what it is you decide in life, there’s lots of time later in life to do whatever it is you want to do. I finished my commercial pilot’s license at 37. I didn’t have that dream when I left high school. I just loved sports and I chased that dream and got everything out of it that I could. Now I’m chasing this passion to fly and coach.”