The Olympics

No Sled? No Problem: Red Stripe Keeps Jamaican Bobsled Team's Dream Alive

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Sandra Kiriasis (center), head coach of team Jamaica reacts with her athletes Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell of Jamaica in happier times, the Women's Bobsleigh World Cup in January.
Sandra Kiriasis (center), head coach of team Jamaica reacts with her athletes Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell of Jamaica in happier times, the Women's Bobsleigh World Cup in January.  Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images For IBSF

Red Stripe has stepped into to save the Jamaican bobsled team at the Olympics. The beer, which is brewed in the nation's capital of Kingston, covered the cost of the women's team's sled at the last minute after its coach quit and apparently threatened to take the sled with her, the brand says.

The coach, Sandra Kiriasis of Germany, quit the team after refusing to change roles from driving coach to "track performance analyst," according to a report Wednesday by the BBC. Kiriasis claims she was forced out and is legally responsible for the sled, the BBC reported. Red Stripe, which is distributed in the U.S. by Heineken USA, seized on the situation with a tweet on Thursday. The Jamaican team took the brew up on its offer.

Soon after, Red Stripe wire-transferred the money (about 40,000 euros, or nearly $50,000) to the team so it could pay a German company that owned the sled, Heineken USA spokesman Bjorn Trowery says.

"The games are an honor to compete in, and as the number one beer in Jamaica, we want to help those athletes realize their dreams. The athletes clearly have no quit, so we are doing our part and putting the cost of a new bobsled on our bar tab. We are currently processing payment," Trowery says. "My expense report this month is going to include a bobsleigh on it, and for that, I couldn't be happier." Trowery added in a text message to Ad Age on Friday morning.

Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation spokesperson Kathleen Pulito confirmed the transaction to USA Today. Trowery says the sled won't have any Red Stripe branding, because there was no time to pull that off. Still, the beer is enjoying valuable publicity for the move.

The situation has the makings of the plot for "Cool Runnings 2." The team is seeking to become the first women's bobsled team to compete for Jamaica at the Winter Olympics. The sun-drenched country famously debuted a men's team at the Olympics 30 years ago that inspired the film "Cool Runnings."

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