SOCHI, Rus.—Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois slid to the overall World Cup title after winning the bronze medal in the final race of the season in Sochi, Russia on Friday.
Sitting in third spot heading into the final run on the 17-corner, barrel-vaulted track located along the Back Sea, it appeared the queens of women’s bobsleigh would drop off the podium for the first time this year after struggling down the 1,500 metre icy chute, clocking a two-run time of 1:57.33. But a costly error by Germany’s Cathleen Martini kept Humphries’ historic medal run alive at 13.
“They weren’t the best runs today,” said Humphries. “I made a few mistakes, but I am still learning. We are going to come back here again next year for international training week and work hard to clean things up.”
Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis and Franziska Bertels will head into the 2014 Olympics as the sled to beat after winning the Sochi stop on the World Cup with a time of 1:57.19. Elana Meyers and Aja Evans, of the United States, finished second at 1:57.32.
Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti drove to her personal best result with a sixth-place finish on Friday in Russia in the Canada 2 sled. Ciochetti, who is completing her first full season driving on the World Cup, along with Calgary’s Kate O’Brien climbed five spots in the second run after stopping the clock at 1:57.94.
It has been an unprecedented medal-winning string for the 25-year-old Humphries that includes two World Championship titles and nine World Cup victories dating back to last season. Humphries set a new record of winning eight straight international victories earlier this year.
“I am super happy with the season overall. We have some of the best sleds in the world with Eurotech, but our whole team is amazing,” said Humphries after successfully defending her World Championship title in St. Moritz two weeks ago. “It is a great atmosphere on our team, and all of the athletes support and cheer for each other. When you have that around you, great things can happen.”
The Olympic champion from Calgary teamed up with Valois, of Zenon Park, Sask., this fall where they rattled off six victories along with one silver and two bronze medal finishes in addition to the World Championship title. Valois has a record of her own, becoming the first athlete to reach the podium in all 10 international races since joining the Canadian Bobsleigh Team in October.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came out to that testing camp <in the fall>,” said Valois. “I didn’t know anything about the sport and I just tried to learn as I go. It slowly progressed. I kept working hard and with great people around me I am feeling really comfortable now. It is really amazing and I am very happy.”
“I am so proud of Chelsea and everything she has accomplished,” said Humphries. “She has been incredible all year and has worked so hard. She has really grown as an athlete.”
Earlier in the day John Fairbairn led the Canadians in the men’s skeleton race. Focused on making his Olympic debut in Sochi next year, the Calgarian clocked a ninth-place time of 1:56.13.
“After a number of frustrating races at the end of the season, I feel the pieces came together for me better today and that is a good note to end the season on to bring confidence going into next season,” said Fairbairn. “I really like the Sochi track. It is quite technical as you saw today with people making mistakes and that creates an exciting race.”
Eric Neilson, of Kelowna, B.C., slid into 10th spot at 1:56.23, while Olympic champion Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Man., placed 12th (1:56.28).
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs locked up the men’s World Cup skeleton title with his victory on Friday in Russia, clocking a time of 1:54.12. Russia’s Alexander Tretjyakov slid to the silver medal at 1:54.29, while Germany’s Frank Rommel was third at 1:55.52.
The final World Cup of the season continues on Saturday in Sochi with the women’s skeleton and men’s two-man bobsleigh races.
Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Canada. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Dow Chemical, Adidas, KBC Helmets, Eurotech – Viking Engineering, SAIT Polytechnic, Conceptum Sport Logistics, Therapeutica – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton develops Olympic and world champions. Please visit us at www.bobsleighcanadaskeleton.ca.
Complete Results: www.fibt.com
Top-Five Women’s Bobsleigh Results:
1. Kiriasis/Bertels, GER, 1:57.19; 2. Meyers/Evans, USA, 1:57.32; 3. Humphries, Calgary/Valois, Zenon, Park, Sask., CAN 1, 1:57.33; 4. Martini/Tischler, GER, 1:57.49; 5. Meyer/Graf, SUI, 1:57.62
Other Canadian Results:
6. Ciochetti, Edmonton/ O’Brien, Calgary, CAN 2, 1:57.94
Top-Five Men’s Skeleton Results:
1. Martins Dukurs, LAT, 1:54.12; 2. Alexander Tretjyakov, RUS, 1:54.29; 3. Frank Rommel, GER, 1:55.52; 4. John Daly, USA, 1:55.59; 5. Tomass Dukurs, LAT, 155.72
9. John Fairbairn, Calgary, 1:56.13; 10. Eric Neilson, Kelowna, B.C., 1:56.23; 12. Jon Montgomery, Russell, Man., 1:56.28