Canadian Olympian has Hawaiian ties
Athletes from the around the world are gearing up for the Olympic games, including one athlete originally from the Big Island - who is now making a name for himself as an Olympic bobsledder.
Justin Kripps is at home racing down the icy bobsled track at nearly 100 miles an hour, but what many may not know is this Canadian Olympian used to call Hawaii home.
He was born in the very small town of Naalehu, on the southern-most tip of the Big Island.
Like many other kids growing up in the islands, Kripps spent a lot of time at the beach.
"He loved the ocean, did a lot of bodyboarding and wanted to be a surfer," said his mother, Libby Harrison.
How did a Big Island boy who wanted to surf end up bobsledding in Canada?
You could say he was "fast-tracked" to the Olympics.
Before exploding off the bobsled's starting line, Kripps gained attention for sprinting off the starting line on the track, another sport he enjoyed while living in Naalehu.
According to Harrison, Kripps started his winning ways at the Hawaii Island elementary school track and field championships. He joined other boys from Pahala who ran barefoot on a cinder track, beating teams from bigger schools - who ran the race in running shoes.
His speed as an All-American sprinter caught the attention of bobsledding experts in 2005 and Kripps has been competing in the icy sport ever since.
He sped his way from brakeman to driver, and now leads his own two and four man teams in the Olympics.
As the leader, he was able to name his sleds. Kripps named them after Hawaiian goddesses: Pele, the goddess of fire, and Poliahu, the goddess of ice.
In the months leading up the games, Kripps and his teammates grew out their facial hair to draw attention to their sport. They also had some fun making a commercial to attraction the attention of sponsors.
Harrison said even the intense international pressure of the Olympics hasn't changed her son's easy-going style.
"He's an outsider, but it is good because he's not really expected to do well. He may just do well, so there is not a lot of pressure on him," stated Harrison.
Helping to remind him to keep cool as the competition heats up are pictures of geckos and other Hawaiian images Kripps brought with him to Sochi. Reminders of his relaxing, carefree days growing up in Hawaii.
"He just likes to have a little bit of Hawaii with him because it is his roots," said Harrison.
Kripps heads into the Olympics with a victory at the final World Cup competition before the games, so he has already had a taste of winning on the international stage.
No matter how he does, Harrison states Kripps will head back to the Big Island to spend some time with his family after the Olympics.
- Hannah Reilly's blog offering tips on surviving life with 4 male students goes viral
- Timeshia Brown places ad in Texas newspaper after husband's affair
- Why so-called 'superfoods' could be BAD for you: Nutritionist says kale can send your thyroid haywire and quinoa irritates the gut
- Three-year-old girl diagnosed with rare eye condition by picture her mother posted on Facebook
- Carmel Valley woman arrested after fatal crash
- Aptos High School mourning after second student suicide
- Woman who died in Iwilei traffic accident identified
- Twin sisters Lucy and Anna DeCinque pay £130k to make them look more similar
- Woman, 36, forgoes cancer treatment and died to have baby she desperately wanted
- John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s memoir JFK Jr., George & Me reveals times at George magazine
- Missing Michaela Wells, Nebraska beauty Queen, 16, disappeared after taking out trash
- Anthony Walker: Argument leads to fatal shooting in Fort Pierce
- Officer explains what led to him getting shot
- Car drives off road into canal
- Two sisters killed in car accident on stretch of Delaware road that has claimed 10 lives since 2000
- Female jogger caught on camera running NAKED down London's Uxbridge Road
- A 35-foot yacht, Caribbean vacations and the best education drug money can buy: NBC writer details the highs and lows of growing up with a marijuana mogul father
- Has MH370 finally been found? China releases satellite image of suspected crash site in the South China Sea... where rescuers first started looking
- The elephant that didn't forget... how to avoid an electric fence:
- Apartment block that looks like a white tree: The ultimate tree house inspired by outdoor lifestyle set to come to life on French Mediterranean
- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz donates $30m to U.S. troops to help fund study into PTSD as they leave Afghanistan
- Kerry: Russia must 'deescalate' in Crime
- Incredible before and after shots show the devastation caused by the Washington landslide that has left at least 14 dead as it is revealed geologists warned of the dangers back in 1999
- Father breaks leg in six places on Turkish waterslide at Didim Beach Resort
|PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity||Awkward family photos|
|UPDATED: Faces of Meth||PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter|
- Arraignment underway for man charged in Pinyon Pines triple murder
- Phyllis Schlafly: Women who are paid same as men won't find husbands
- Pregnant stepmother of boy, 5, who was locked under the stairs and staved loses custody of her 6 biological children
- NYPD ending controversial program to spy on Muslims
- Flooding in northern NY closes some roads, bridges
- Young man convicted of killing Michigan trooper on life support after suicide attempt
- Hobbit actor Mikael Persbrandt jailed for buying 12 grams of cocaine
- Spooked carriage horse smashes into cars and ejects its driver in Savannah, Georgia
- Man so scared of Kim Kardashian she makes him VOMIT with disgust
- Mayor of Mexican 'drug cartel' city arrested on extortion charges