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Moyse switches from bobsleigh to track cycling

Heather Moyse, who combined with pilot Kaillie Humphries to win Canada's first-ever Olympic gold medal in women's bobsleigh, confirmed Tuesday that she is switching to track cycling.
Heather Moyse, top, and Kaillie Humphries combined to win Canada's first-ever Olympic gold medal in women's bobsleigh. ((Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images))

After years of negotiating high-speed turns on bobsleigh tracks, Olympic gold medallist Heather Moyse is taking a turn at track cycling.

The native of Summerside, P.E.I., who, combined with pilot Kaillie Humphries, won Canada's first-ever Olympic gold medal in women's bobsleigh at Vancouver in 2010, confirmed Tuesday that she is switching sports, in part because the ankle injury that sidelined her for the past year has limited her sprinting power — a critical component of push starts for bobsleigh brakemen. 

Moyse, a fixture on the national bobsleigh team since 2005, also represented Canada at the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2006 and 2010, earning all-star honours in the 2006 tournament at Edmonton. 

It was in Canada's final match at the 2010 tournament that she rolled her right ankle, rupturing the ligaments around it to such an extent that they required surgery.

"I'm excited to test myself in another power and speed sport," Moyse said in a statement released Tuesday. "But this will be a much more difficult transition for me than rugby or bobsleigh.

"I have quickly discovered track cycling is an incredibly technical sport and it will take a considerably longer period of time to acquire the necessary skills to compete at the highest level.

"That said, it is a challenge I'm going to fully embrace and I'm very much looking forward to taking it on."

Moyse first tried track cycling last fall and, noting how it helped her maintain power and strength enough to sprint without impacting her testy ankle, began riding a road bike this spring. Multiple summer and winter Olympic medallist Clara Hughes referred Moyse to national coach Tanya Dubnicoff, who invited Moyse to the 2011 track cycling nationals in Bromont, Que., and to participate in a mid-August training camp and a national team training session last month.

"After seeing Heather in Bromont, I was convinced she had the strength to be a competitive cyclist," Dubnicoff said. "But cycling is not all just about strength.

"Learning a new sport can be time consuming and frustrating. With her background not being in cycling, getting the technique down will be Heather's biggest challenge.

"But Heather is a world-class athlete with exceptional determination and dedication towards pursuing her goals. I look forward to helping her develop into an elite sprint cyclist."

Moyse, 33, will try to meet the national team's qualifying standards later this month.

"This will be much more difficult [than switching from bobsleigh to rugby]," she said. "But I thrive off of challenges and being able to push myself in sport and I want to see how well I can do in this sport.

"This will be a great break from bobsleigh that will allow me to maintain my fitness. It is a new world for me and I'm looking forward to it."

Moyse broke into bobsleigh in a big way, finishing second overall on the FIBT World Cup circuit with pilot Heather Upperton and setting push-start records on five international tracks.

A year later, she set a push-start record at the 2006 Torino Olympics, finishing fourth.

At the Vancouver Games, she set two push-start records and, with Humphries at the helm, shattered three track records in winning all four heats and the gold.

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