Thirty years after Jamaica’s first men’s bobsled team competed in the Calgary Olympics and inspired the movie Cool Runnings, Jasmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell hoped to make history this month in Pyeongchang as the country's first women’s bobsled team.
But after one of their coaches resigned Wednesday under mysterious circumstances, it’s unclear if the team will be able to compete at all.
Sandra Kiriasis, a former German bobsled champion, says the Jamaican Bobsled Skeleton Federation (JBSF) forced her out of her role as the team’s driving coach after she refused to accept a new position – in essence, a demotion – as the team’s track performance analyst, the BBC reports.
Kiriasis is now claiming she legally owns the sled – a claim that JBSF denies – and won’t let the team use it until the JBSF pays her for it. "The athletes have told me they don't understand why this has happened as they have no problem with me and we have a good relationship,” Kiriasis tells the BBC.
In a Facebook post, she added that, "“I was told out of the blue that with immediate effect I should work only as a track and performance analyst, would have to leave the Olympic village, would lose my accreditation as part of the Jamaican team and was not supposed to have any more contact with the athletes."
However, JBSF president Christian Stokes told Reuters she was a “hugely destructive force on the team.” “Now that she is off the team, synergy is much better, tension is down, and athletes are now able to focus in a much healthier environment,” Stokes says.
The JBSF insists that her departure will not affect the team’s ability to compete, and NBC says they will still compete on Feb. 21 according to schedule.