By Dan Plouffe
After completing the final Olympic bobsled run of his career on the final day of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, Cody Sorensen rushed from the mountains over to the Bird’s Nest for Closing Ceremonies, and then the night blurred into the morning as he boarded a plane back to Canada. When the now 2-time Olympian finally got home to Ottawa, he crashed for a 16-hour sleep.
“It was a grind of a season. A lot of people don’t see that,” noted the 35-year-old whose crew missed a couple World Cup races early in 2022 when COVID ripped through the Canadian team and put their Olympic qualification in peril.
“It wasn’t a free ticket for us to get to the Games, that’s for sure,” he added. “We had a couple crashes earlier on in training, which is never fun, and even our performance just wasn’t there early on, and it actually came down to the last race on the World Cup to kind of lock in our qualification for the Games.
“It was an emotional final run.”
Sorensen – who made an unexpected leap back into bobsled this season, 8 years after his debut in Sochi – helped push pilot Chris Spring to his best finish in the 4-man event out of his four Olympic appearances. Sorensen was “very proud of our performance and the result” in Beijing. They wound up placing 9th to nicely exceed their #12 world ranking.
After crossing the finish line, Sorensen popped up from his sitting position and stood tall with his arms outstretched while the flying sled slowly came to a stop.
Was he soaking in the moment for all it was worth? Was he trying to say, “Look, I made it through 4 runs at the Olympics!” after a crash/concussion kept him from completing that task in 2014? Or was he trying to emulate bad guys from the movies who struck a similar pose (as some social media posts suggested)? He still has no idea.
“There was no thought put into it at all,” Sorensen laughed. “It wasn’t planned – I guess you could say it was organic. I’m not sure what it represents, maybe it was just a good representation of the feeling I had kind of coming up the braking stretch.
“But it was joyful of course. You can’t see my face obviously, but I can guarantee that I was smiling while doing it.”
The Spring crew wasn’t a huge medal threat, but it was “pretty special” to celebrate a Canadian podium nonetheless when Justin Kripps’ sled came down a few minutes later in the bronze medal position, highlighted Sorensen, whose father Ole competed in the 1972 Olympics as a wrestler.
“One of the things that attracted me most to sport – just generally, even before I got into bobsled – was the camaraderie and the friendships that I saw with my dad and his friends. Some of his best friends on the planet, to this day, are guys that he competed with and met, for the first time some of them, at the Olympics,” highlighted Sorensen, who was thankful to build on friendships he’d already established with a number of veterans still present from his 2014 Olympic run.
“The Olympics was not necessarily the highlight of the year, it was spending the last four months kind of grinding it out in Europe – racing with these guys, and hanging out in resort towns across Europe,” added the former Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club hurdler. “Some of the most special moments were when you’re in a car, you’re on the autobahn or stuck in the snow – those are the experiences that I think we’ll all remember, perhaps more than a particular run at the Olympic Games.”
Among Sorensen’s sliding pals is now teammate Mike Evelyn, who he first met while water skiing at a mutual friend’s cottage, when they had no clue that they shared the unlikely title of being bobsledders from Ottawa.
“Mike carried us physically from the performance aspect this year I think,” Sorensen said of his 28-year-old teammate who stands 6′ 3.5″ and weighs 230 lbs. “He was by far the most physically talented this year, and actually probably even in our primes, he would have for sure kind of outperformed us.
“It’s pretty obvious that Sam (Giguère) and I are done, it’s yet to be seen for Spring, but we told him it’s up to him to carry on the Team Spring legacy. That’s his role now.”
Though Sorensen’s return to the bobsledding world was definitely unexpected – the work-from-home setup during COVID gave him more time to get in shape after Spring mused about the possibility of giving it one last go at the Olympics – he pledged that this was definitely the final chapter of his bobsled career.
After transforming a lean frame from his hurdling days at Glebe Collegiate Institute and Guelph University into the considerably heavier force required to power a bobsled down a frozen slope, Sorensen pushed his way onto the national bobsled team in time for the 2010 Olympics, though his Canada-3 sled ultimately didn’t get to race in Vancouver/Whistler.
In the lead-up to the Sochi Games, Sorensen won a total of 8 medals in World Cup and World Championships competitions. This year’s rebirth didn’t garner hardware, but the Welch Capital Partners employee will settle back into his job in mergers and acquisitions with many more cherished memories.
“I had so much fun,” Sorensen underlined, adding that the team’s solid performance also showed the effort was justified. “Some of the best moments in the last 10 years I would say happened in the last 4 months.
“The traveling and just the amount of effort that goes into qualifying for the Olympics, it forces or encourages you as a team to come together. Those are experiences that are obviously very unique that you don’t get outside of a sporting environment, so I don’t regret a single thing. It was pretty incredible.”
‘This is what it’s all about’: bobsledder on visiting with kids inspired by their quests
A week after their final run, Sorensen and Evelyn did a surprise visit with a few newly-famous local kids who made a giant replica bobsled out of snow on Ole Sorensen’s front lawn.
“It was a lot of fun,” signalled Sorensen, who enjoyed seeing old neighbours he hadn’t seen since before COVID struck, and was impressed that the kids stayed interested for well over an hour when he’d anticipated the allure of the visit would wear off after a few minutes.
“It’s so great to see all the neighbourhood kids come out and enjoy the sport that we love,” Evelyn echoed in a CTV News report. “This is what it’s all about. The whole reason we go and compete on the big stage is so we can inspire the next generation of kids.”
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