President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stoke, insists the team will now shift all its attention into competition mode following an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) on behalf of the country’s two-woman team.

On Monday, a CAS panel rejected an appeal filed by woman bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian who had called for a recalculation of the point rankings for the Beijing 2022 Quota Allocation for the two-woman event, based only on races that actually took place. 

The appeal was based on the decision made by the Olympic organisers after inclement weather had led to the cancelation of a meet scheduled for Germany on December 4.  According to the filing, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation instead counted a December 5 competition twice, which allowed a sled piloted by France’s Margot Boch to qualify for the final spot in the two-woman bobsled competition at the Olympics. The decision meant Audra Segree, Fenlator-Victorian's brakewoman, missed out on a spot via a tiebreak.  The court, however, rejected the appeal.

While insisting it was important to air their grouses, Stokes insists the team is ready to move on.

“The decision has come down as dismissed, we accept that wholeheartedly.  Winning is one thing but the more important thing is to speak up and I’m very proud of Jazmine for speaking up,” Stokes said.

“We maintain that it is better sports results be determined on the field of play and not in administration but we put that behind us and we are now in a high-performance zone and we are getting ready for competition.”

Fenlator-Victorian will compete in the Women’s Monobob, which gets underway on February 11.  Jamaica’s men’s team will compete in both the Two-Man and Four-Man events, which get underway a few days later.

President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Chris Stokes, admits it is a special feeling to see the country’s four-man men’s team heading back to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 24 years.

Inescapably, whenever a Jamaica team qualifies for the Olympics, an inexorable link is made to the 1993 smash hit Cool Runnings, which starred the late John Candy and Doug E. Doug that went on to become a cult classic.

Unlike the movie, however, the hard yards put in to get to the Olympics, for the nation that has never seen a drop of snow, has always been real.

Stokes was a last-minute alternate when the team crashed the sled during the historic catapult down the ice in the four-man competition, in Calgary 1988, for the squad that would become immortalised in film.  He and others have pushed on ever since.  The team has subsequently appeared at another eight Olympic Games.  The men’s team, however, last appeared at the Winter sports spectacle in 2014 when a two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts finished in 24th place and have not taken part as a four-man unit since 1998.  In the upcoming Olympics, the men’s team will make a triumphant return, but the team has also qualified for the two-man event and women’s monobob to appear in a historic three events.

“It has a special place in my heart to know that we will be in the four-man event once again at the Olympics, having been a part of that team myself (In 1988) it gives me great satisfaction,” Stokes said.

“It's not something that we take for granted it's hard work every time to qualify and it is a huge step for us to have three teams at the Games this year.”

With a bit more luck it could have been four, with the women’s two-woman team finishing just outside of the automatic qualification spots based on a tiebreaker.  The team could still appear at the Games having secured the position as the first alternate, should any of the automatic qualifiers withdraw from the event.

 “The two-woman team of Audra Segree and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian were close.  They were in the qualifying spots for most of the way but in the last few weeks, I think some very questionable decisions were made when it comes to qualification.  I can’t say that I was surprised because these things happen, but it was unfortunate.”

The women’s team made its debut at the 2018 Winter Games with Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell taking part in the event.  Despite the possibility of that team being left out this time around, qualifying three teams is not a feat to be scoffed at.

“We have an absolutely outstanding program and we don’t take it for granted.  We have a strong administration and an elite coaching staff that are wanted all over the world.”

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