Friday, January 30, 1998
Twin blade action
"After this year, no more crewing for me, just driving," declares Ben Hindle. "And who knows, maybe we can have a Hindle Brothers two-man team."
You'd certainly think that if there's a sled which should be able to get sponsors it would that one. "Doublemint gum," muses Ben. "Gillette Twin Blades ..."
Yes, the possibilities are intriguing. But, that's for next year or beyond. First order of business is the Olympics, which is, after all, the reason why Ben and his identical twin brother Matt have slavishly devoted themselves to bobsleigh for the past six years.
And there have been some lean days on the road to their first Games for the 23-year-old, Calgary-born, Lethbridge-raised siblings.
"We've had some interesting times," grins Ben. "We've had to be creative in cutting costs. One time we rented a storage room in an apartment to a fellow team member as a bedroom. But it's stuff any other athlete goes through. We managed to make it."
The sport first caught their eye during the '92 Olympics.
"I watched when Chris Lori came in fourth," says Ben. "A few of my old friends from track and field were in that race."
As it happened, bobsleigh was recruiting heavily from the ranks of track, and it found the Hindles, or vice versa.
In '93, after graduating from Lethbridge's Catholic Central high school, they moved back to Calgary to chase a new dream.
"It was never really a question of if, it was a question of when. We just sort of knew we could do it," says Matt, who plans to remain a crewman, and leave the driving to Ben.
"We were always bigger athletes," his brother remembers. "In track, our size (they're both 5 ft. 11 in. and around 200 lbs.) almost held us back, but it was perfect for bobsleigh.
"After our first year on the team, both crews had their best results ever," he adds. "We had some of the fastest starts at the worlds. We realized we could be the best. We had the talent, and if hard work was what it was going to take, we were going to work harder."
The Hindles have been together in the four-man event with Lori for most of their careers, although Ben pushed for Pierre Lueders last season, and Matt joined him at the world championships, where they were seventh.
"We didn't really mind if we were on the same team or not," says Ben. "But we do work well together."
In 1996 they combined to help Lori finish third in the overall World Cup standings.
Both have found bobsleigh everything they'd imagined.
"There are so many different things to it. The athleticism, and the technical part and the science and teamwork. And all these different phases have to come together," Ben says.
The question is, will that happen at Nagano?
"We have teamwork and confidence," states Ben.
It wouldn't be a bad way to kick off an Olympic career.
"It hasn't quite sunk in yet," admits Ben, "that I'm going to walk into that stadium as a member of the Canadian team."