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Kaillie Humphries victorious in bobsleigh World Cup debut with U.S.

Former Canadian bobsled star Kaillie Humphries won her World Cup women's debut for the United States on Saturday, posting the fastest time in both heats at the season opener in Lake Placid, N.Y., for her 23rd career World Cup victory.

2-time Olympic champion switched competitive allegiances from Canada in September

A beaming Kaillie Humphries, right, and her new brakewoman, Lauren Gibbs, celebrate their victory for the United States in Saturday's bobsleigh opener in Lake Placid, N.Y. Representing Canada, Humphries was the Olympic champion at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. (Hans Pennink/Associated Press)

Kaillie Humphries' World Cup bobsled debut for the United States was a winning one.

The former Canadian bobsled star won this season's women's opener on Saturday, posting the fastest time in both heats at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, New York, for her 23rd career World Cup victory — and her first for the U.S.

Humphries teamed with Lauren Gibbs to finish two runs in one minute 53.48 seconds, posting the fastest time in both heats.

"I've been through a lot emotionally over the last year, so knowing I have the skill to focus and turn it on when I need to builds confidence," said Humphries, who won two Olympic golds in her career for Canada. "I can rely on my teammates and they trust me back. Some things aren't perfect, but I'm a high-performing athlete and there will always be things I want to improve on."

WATCH | Kaillie Humphries atop podium in U.S. debut:

2-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries wins women's bobsleigh event for United States in her 1st race since switching competitive allegiances from Canada. 3:14

That might be bad news for the rest of the women's bobsled circuit. Humphries showed no rust whatsoever in her first World Cup race in nearly two years.

The event Saturday was Humphries's first major international race since she won the bronze for Canada at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. She sat out last season after filing a complaint with Canadian officials and saying she no longer felt safe in that nation's program.

'Great way to start next chapter'

She gained her release to join the U.S. team in September and competed in a pair of North American Cup races last month.

WATCH | Humphries on her racing return: 'I was very nervous':

2-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries discusses her victory. 1:23

Germany's Stephanie Schneider drove to the silver, and Germany got the bronze in the sled piloted by Kim Kalicki. Schneider was nearly one-third of a second behind Humphries, Kalicki nearly a half-second back. In bobsled, those are significant margins.

"This feels fantastic to start the season so strong," Humphries said. "It's a great way to start this next chapter. The team has been so supportive and there's been an incredible team effort this week to make this win happy today. I'm feeling really happy and proud."

Humphries learned to drive on the Lake Placid track, and has had enormous success there. She's now won nine major international medals on that track — five gold, including the 2012 world championship, along with a silver and three bronze.

She gets a chance to add to her total next weekend, when the second World Cup race of the season is also held there. Lake Placid is hosting two World Cups this season because the planned opener in Park City, Utah, had to be moved because of mechanical problems at the 2002 Olympic track.

Canada's Kripps, Coakwell win 2-man bronze:

In the first two-man race of the season, Germany's Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer pulled off a mild upset by beating countrymen Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis. Friedrich had won 11 consecutive major international two-man races — including every World Cup race last year, plus an Olympics and a world championship — before Saturday.

Lochner and Bauer finished on top of the pack with a time of one minute, 50.17 seconds, while Friedrich and Margis clocked one minute, 50.25 seconds. 

Canada's Justin Kripps and Ben Coakwell scrapped their way onto the podium, after a shaky first run left them in fifth. The duo then recorded the second-fastest time of the night with their second run to secure a spot on the podium with a time of one minute, 50.43 seconds. 

WATCH | Kripps and Coakwell finish 3rd:

Canada's Justin Kripps and Benjamin Coakwell finish in 3rd place. 2:21

"It was a good comeback in that second heat and nice to start the season on the podium," said the 32-year-old Kripps. "We don't often put down fastest times. Consistency is the key for us and that was the difference again today."

It was the 13th career World Cup two-man podium finish for Kripps. The 2018 Olympic champion and native of Summerland, B.C. also made sure to give his breakman plenty of credit. 

"Ben did a great job today. I know he wants to get a little bit more at the start, but we had top-four pushes and were in the mix today."

WATCH | Kripps, Coakwell discuss bronze medal win:

Canada's Justin Kripps and Benjamin Coakwell reflect on their 3rd place in Lake Placid. 1:31

Loelling repeats as skeleton champion

Germany's Jacqueline Loelling won the first women's World Cup skeleton race of the season Saturday, posting the fastest time in both heats at Mount Van Hoevenberg for her 10th career victory on the circuit.

Germany's Jacqueline Loelling celebrates her first-place finish in the World Cup skeleton opener on Saturday, her second victory in as many years at Lake Placid, N.Y. (Hans Pennink/Associated Press)

Loelling finished in one minute 49.76 seconds at Lake Placid, followed by Austria's Janine Flock (1:50.00) and Germany's Tina Hermann (1:50.47).

Loelling won a pair of World Cup races last year, including the Lake Placid stop last February. Reigning World Cup champion Elena Nikitina of Russia was fifth.

With files from Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton

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