Kaillie Humphries wins record 4th women's world bobsleigh title
Canada's Cynthia Appiah makes worlds debut as a pilot, finishing 9th
Kaillie Humphries got some help from a U.S. bobsled legend on her way to making history Saturday.
Humphries is the world women's bobsled champion for a record fourth time, teaming with Lolo Jones to win the title on a snowy day in Altenberg, Germany. Humphries and Jones finished their four runs over two days in three minutes 48.26 seconds.
And Humphries drove to the title in a sled equipped with runners that were owned by Steven Holcomb, the former world and Olympic champion who died nearly four years ago.
"A big portion of this was for him, too," Humphries said, talking through her tears moments after winning the title. "This feels great."
WATCH | Humphries teams with Lolo Jones for 4th world title:
Humphries also won world championships in 2012, 2013 and 2020, along with Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014. The Olympic titles and first two world crowns came while she was racing for Canada. She was released from that national team, began sliding for USA Bobsled in 2019 and is awaiting a citizenship decision that will determine whether she can be part of the U.S. Olympic team next year.
Germany's Sandra Kiriasis is the only other three-time women's world champion. And now Humphries stands alone atop that list.
"It is the biggest relief ever," Humphries said.
Kim Kalicki and Ann-Christin Strack won the silver medal in 3:48.61. Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi of Germany finished third in 3:49.27, followed by the German sled of Stephanie Schneider and Leonie Fiebig in fourth and the U.S. sled of Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman in fifth.
Toronto's Cynthia Appiah and Erica Voss were ninth, Edmonton's Alysia Rissling and Dawn Richardson-Wilson were 12th, and Christine De Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., and Sara Villani of Norval, Ont., were 16th.
WATCH | Canada's Appiah, Voss place 9th in Altenberg, Germany:
"I'm beyond ecstatic with how my first worlds went as a pilot," Appiah said. "I wish I could take back my third run as I could have really moved up a lot had I been consistent, but three out of four runs is not bad at all.
"I knew going into the fourth run that I couldn't give up and that I had to quickly toss aside the third run. Once I set my mind to it, I knew that the last run was going to be a good one."
The 30-year-old Canadian made her way to Altenberg thanks to a fourth-place finish at last weekend's final World Cup stop in Igls, Austria.
"My season was a rollercoaster to say the least, so to see myself at worlds in the two-woman event is something that I would not have pictured two months ago. Our team's stint in Whistler didn't go as well as I would have liked, and I know there was doubt across the board as to whether I could even drive anymore. But the coaches and my brakemen didn't give up on me so I knew I couldn't give up either.
"Looking into next season couldn't be brighter. I don't think a lot of nations had thought of me as being a potential medal threat, but these past two weekends have shown that I intend to make a great battle for both two-woman and monobob at the Beijing Games."
Humphries and Jones went into the final heat with a lead of 0.29 seconds over Kalicki and Strack, and the rate of snowfall, which slows sleds down as it begins to coat tracks, was increasing as the final run went along.
Not a problem. Humphries never had any issues in that final run, crossed the finish line, threw her fists into the air then turned around to give Jones a few congratulatory smacks on the helmet.
"To be able to share this moment with her … it just feels really special to know she had faith in me," Humphries said.
Friedrich leads 2-man by wide margin
The two-man world championship event started Saturday and Germany's Francesco Friedrich has already turned it into a runaway. Friedrich and Alexander Schueller had the fastest time in both heats and lead the German sled of Johannes Lochner and Eric Franke by 0.88 seconds — a massive margin in sliding — going into Sunday's final two runs.
Switzerland's Michael Vogt and Sandro Michel are third and 0.93 seconds back of Friedrich, who is well on his way to a seventh consecutive world two-man title.
The men's and women's skeleton world championships are in Altenberg next weekend, along with the four-man bobsled and women's monobob events. Humphries will be a favourite for the monobob title.
With files from CBC Sports