Kaillie Humphries wins 1st World Cup bobsleigh race of season
Calgary native returns to form with sizzling performance
Kaillie Humphries has served noticed: The Calgary bobsleigh driver has returned to her dominant ways.
The two-time Olympic champion, who struggled at times last season, destroyed the field en route to a gold medal Friday at a World Cup event in Altenberg, Germany.
Humphries, along with brakewoman Melissa Lotholz, of Barrhead, Alta., finished in a two-run combined time of one minute, 53.67 seconds. Humphries also shaved 0.002 seconds off her six-year-old track record. It was the 14th World Cup victory for Humphries, and first with Lotholz.
"Overall I'm really happy how it went. We pushed faster this year than last year, which shows a summer of good training is paying off," said Humphries following her 30th career World Cup podium. "We had two good runs overall, and I'm happy with how I drove today. The new sled is running really well and I hope to continue to build on this momentum for rest of season."
Belgium's Elfje Willemsen and Sophie Vercruyssen earned silver in 1:54.41. Americans Jamie Greubel Poser and Lauren Gibbs (1:54.72) finished with the bronze medal.
The Canadians weren't the fastest at the start but Humphries' superior driving more than made up for any lost time at the top of the track.
Leaving no doubt
Humphries, who failed to win a World Cup event last season, left no doubt about her intentions to dominate this campaign.
"The goal is to be very best I can be and I know if I can do that I'll be best in the world. Last year was year one of four. There was lots of new and we are still going through a new cycle of teach and learn with brakemen and equipment, but it is nice to see it is paying off," said Humphries.
The 22-year-old Lotholz pushed Humphries to three of her four podiums during a rookie season one year ago. Their first podium together also came in Altenberg when they won the bronze last year.
"It [win] is honestly a little much to take in right now and quite surreal," said Lotholz. "To stand on the podium and see the Canadian flag raised while hearing the anthem – it brought a tear to my eye. It is just amazing to be a part of."
The surprise of the event was the eighth-place showing (1:55.23) by defending world champions Elana Meyers Taylor and Cherrelle Garrett of the U.S.
While the Americans broke the start time record in the first heat, Meyers struggled with her driving as she continually brushed off the sides of the track.
At one point in the second heat, Meyers and Garrett nearly crash but the American pilot was able to maintain control and avoid tipping over.
Humphries in dispute with Canadian federation
Last season, Humphries and Meyers became the first women to pilot male crews in the World Cup in the four-man event. However, Humphries has yet to convince Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS), the sport's national governing body, to allow her take part in the event this season.
Canada has two international quota berths in four-man this season, and the IBST, the sport's world governing body, has awarded a third to Canada specifically for Humphries.
However, BCS' qualifying standards are higher than the IBSF's, and Humphries hasn't met them, leaving her feeling frustrated.
"I've never been in a situation where my goals and dreams have not aligned with Bobsleigh Canada's," Humphries told The Canadian Press earlier this month. "It's an extremely difficult situation for me currently at the moment."
With files from Anson Henry and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton