Canada's de Bruin delivers monobob bronze as Humphries claims gold in 1st Olympics with U.S.
3-time Canadian Olympian victorious as American in debut of single-woman event
Canada's Christine de Bruin claimed bronze in the Olympic debut of monobob on Monday in Beijing.
She could only watch as former national teammate Kaillie Humphries ran away with gold at the National Sliding Centre.
Humphries, who competed for Canada at the previous three Games before splitting with the team and joining the U.S., won with a total time of four minutes 19.27 seconds, more than one second ahead of American teammate Elana Meyers Taylor, who took silver at 4:20.81.
De Bruin, 32, sat in the silver-medal position through three of four runs, but a strong closing heat from Meyers Taylor bumped her to bronze with a time of 4:21.03.
WATCH | De Bruin races to bronze in monobob:
Humphries, who was born in Calgary, led from start to finish after setting a track record in her first heat at 1:04.44. seconds. She became the first woman to win Olympic gold for two different countries, and the first Olympian to win gold for both the U.S. and Canada. She also is the first woman to win three golds in bobsledding.
"It's a feeling of pride and elation and excitement," she told The Canadian Press. "This one feels more emotional than most. It just really hits the heartstrings.
"I feel very proud. I feel very honoured ... I feel like I've found my people."
For de Bruin, the rest of the podium hardly mattered.
"I'm shocked. I don't even know if I can answer questions right now. I can't believe this just happened," de Bruin told CBC's Marivel Taruc immediately after the race.
The Canadian came a long way after placing last in her first-ever World Cup monobob race.
"Becoming bronze right now is just insane," she said.
It's the second Olympics for de Bruin, who placed seventh in the two-woman in 2018. Only in the past four years did she really begin to cement herself among the podium contenders in the sport, including two World Cup monobob gold medals this season.
She'll team with brakewoman Kristen Bujnowski in the two-woman, which begins on Feb. 18.
But it was one thing at a time for de Bruin, who was immediately focused on doping control and receiving her medal, which has since been placed around her neck.
"It feels awesome. It feels heavy. It's nice," she said.
Later on Monday — Valentine's Day in Beijing — she'll cheer from the sidelines as husband Ivo de Bruin competes for the Netherlands in the two-man bobsleigh heats.
Meyers Taylor is now a four-time medallist, giving her the most in USA Bobsled history — breaking a tie with three others, the great Steven Holcomb among them — and tying her for sixth most in U.S. Winter Olympic history.
"There's a good chance that [the two-woman race is] my last one, so I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it," Meyers Taylor said. "All things have to come to an end, and I've had an incredible journey."
WATCH | Humphries slides to gold medal:
Toronto's Cynthia Appiah was eighth on the 1,615-metre, 16-turn track located about 90 kilometres north of Beijing.
The addition of monobob to the Olympic program made the sport of bobsleigh gender-neutral, with the men racing in the four-man and two-man and the women taking on two-woman and monobob.
Humphries claims victory in new colours
Humphries won gold medals in the two-woman for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, and took bronze four years ago in Pyeongchang.
But soon after her final podium appearance, she sued for her release from Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) claiming a coach and management had violated the organization's own anti-harassment policies. One month later, a court ruled that BCS had the discretion to decide whether to allow one of its athletes to compete for another country. Soon after, BCS freed Humphries to slide for the U.S.
Humphries, who lives in San Diego where she is married to former American bobsledder Travis Armbruster, was sworn in as a citizen with little time to spare in December.
"The ultimate success is being able to stand on top of the podium and sing my national anthem, sing the Star-Spangled Banner now," Humphries told CBC Sports ahead of these Olympics.
WATCH | Humphries sings American anthem after winning gold:
Humphries fought back tears with her hand over her heart as she sang her new anthem on Monday before hugging Meyers Taylor for the traditional photo on the top step of the podium after the trio received their medals, but didn't do the same with de Bruin.
"She is one of the greats," said de Bruin, choosing her words carefully. "To be up there with her is pretty cool"
Asked if she had any words for Canada, Humphries began with "not really" before continuing.
"I'm still Canadian," said the dual citizen. "I will never forget my time as part of Canada, and I am so proud and honoured to still consider myself Canadian. I am also American. To me, it's not a rivalry. I'm not picking and choosing one country over the other. Canada will always hold my past. Every single time I represented Team Canada, I did so with my heart and soul.
"The U.S.A. has my future."
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press