ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - There is something in the hair for Canada’s Olympic bobsleigh team.
Pilots Chris Spring and Justin Kripps, with brakeman Jesse Lumsden and pusher Cody Sorensen, would not look out of place behind a pack of huskies, mushing along with ice in their beards and a glint of gold in the eyes.
Introduced to the media on Wednesday as “one hairy group of guys”, although ‘mane attraction’ might also do, the four form part of a bigger bobsleigh squad that will not be troubling a barber shop any time soon.
At least one of them has not cut his hair in years.
“I think Tim Randall actually started it, he’s on my four man team. He’s always rocking a pretty large beard,” said Kripps.
“You know, we all just kind of picked it up and started growing it towards the end of the summer. We think it better represents the culture of bobsledding in Canada than our clean-shaven counterparts.”
As he spoke, he grinned across at Olympic 2010 four-man bronze medalist Lyndon Rush - very much the odd man out with a head as smooth on top as his exposed and naked chin.
In Lumsden’s case, it will be hair today and gone tomorrow.
“I’ve been growing my hair for two years now with the intent of donating it after the Games,” said the burly brakeman.
Canada has a strong recent record in Olympic bob, with two-man gold in 1998 and silver in 2006 as well as four-man bronze in 2010.
If they have flair in their hair, the men also have put plenty of spirit - or spirits - into the names they have bestowed on their sleds.
Spring, who competed for Australia in 2010 and now has Canadian citizenship, has named his two-man sled Altjira after the aboriginal god of the dream time when the world was created.
“I have a lot of respect for the aboriginal culture back home and wanted to reflect through my sled,” he said.
His four-man bob is ‘Phoenix’, since it emerged from the wreckage of a big crash in January 2012.
“My sled went from being worth a lot of money to probably not being worth anything at all,” he smiled. “Luckily our head mechanic built a new one and used a few parts from the old sled from that crash. It was reborn literally from the ashes.”
Kripps has named his sleds after Hawaiian goddesses in a nod to his roots while Rush has ‘Deuce’ and ‘Moose’ on his. They rhyme, but - as he explained with a smile - the poetry is more of the potty variety.
”It’s a two man so deuce makes sense. But my wife calls bobsleigh ‘poopsleigh’ and so do my kids and they kind of tease me,“ he said. ”And poop is a number two. So I renamed the sled.
“And we named the four-man ‘Moose’ because it’s big and rhymes with deuce.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips.