Canadian bobsleigh duo make pitch for podium cash

Lumsden, Kripps launch new funding drive with tongue-in-cheek video prior to start of World Cup season

CALGARY— It’s a dreaded question that too often pops up in job interviews, and is almost always asked of athletes and entertainers: “What would your profession be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing right now?”

Loaded with creativity and humour, a new video launched Wednesday by Canadian bobsleigh athletes, Jesse Lumsden and Justin Kripps, asks just that while also playing on the duo’s need for cash in their pursuit of Olympic gold. They’re hoping that along with a few laughs, the video will inspire individuals and corporations to open their wallets and help push them to victory.

“It’s been no secret that the corporate funding has dwindled since Canada hosted the 2010 Olympics, and that does impact us at the team level, and as individual athletes,” said Lumsden, an Olympian and former CFL star running back who played for Hamilton’s Tiger-Cats and McMaster Marauders. Lumsden, who attended Nelson high school in Burlington, has also been selling hand-made bracelets to raise funds for his quest for the podium.

“If I was going to launch a fundraising campaign, I wanted to do it right, and prove to potential partners that I’m willing to put myself out there, be different, be creative, and get people’s attention – all in a very positive way. That’s where the idea for the video came in.”

Building on the premise of their need for cash, the video – which was created in partnership with the Joe Media Group – opens with Lumsden and Kripps dressed in their speed suits, and sporting ties, while meeting with a professional recruiter who asks about their skills. Lumsden’s response – “We Push Stuff” – sets the tone for the ensuing hilarity as the burly athletes try their hand at everything from office mail delivery to being hospital orderlies.

“Our focus right now is on pushing our sled to gold – period. It’s what we’re eating, living, and breathing every day,” said Kripps, a brakeman at the 2010 Olympics, who is now the pilot of the Canada 3 sled.

“There is obviously a lot of attention on our sport right now being an Olympic year, and while the stakes are high – we feel we also need to remember that sport should be fun. It is our hope this video creates some additional excitement and interest in our unique sport amongst Canadians, while also capturing the attention of corporate executives who would be interested in joining us for this exciting ride in addition to gaining enormous exposure for their brand.”

Funding for an athlete’s annual budget comes from a variety of avenues. Personal sponsorships and speaking opportunities are a core component to covering the many annual expenses that high-performance athletes face for both training and competition.

“We are not looking for millions of dollars, but would like to establish relationships with companies that can benefit from engaging themselves in our pursuit of excellence in sport, while helping to relieve some of the financial burden amateur athletes experience,” added Lumsden. “I believe there is tremendous opportunity for a corporation to engage themselves with two Canadians focused on excellence, and who understand their position as role models that have the ability to inspire activity and performance.”

The Canadian duo will begin their quest for the podium on home ice in Calgary, Nov. 25-30 for the season-opening Viessmann Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup, presented by The Globe and Mail.