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Maggie Hendricks

Lack of confidence, safety concerns leads bobsledder to withdraw

Fourth-Place Medal

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Dutch bobsledder Edwin Van Calker withdrew from the four-man bobsled race, citing a lack of confidence in his ability to pilot the sled down the track at Whistler, the same track in which a top German women's team crashed in the final heat and Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died after being thrown from the track.

"Some say it a brave decision. Some say scared," he said at a news conference. "I have to look after my boys and can’t close my eyes to that. For me, it’s not about performing, it’s about surviving."

After all that's happened at the Whistler track, Van Calker's decision is hardly surprising, and it's in the best interest of his team.

Bobsledding is not a sport you can dip your toe into. With the difficulty of the track and the high speeds that bobsleds can hit, the pilot needs to be absolutely confident in his or her skills. Even one second of indecision can be disastrous.

Van Calker crashed in the two-man bobsled, and that shook his confidence. His coach said that the crash, as well as family pressures and thoughts of the Kumaritashvili crash, played into his decision not to race. Van Calker isn't the first to have concerns about the track at Whistler; Venezuelan luger Werner Hoeger said that "nearly everyone" is afraid of the course.

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