WHISTLER, B.C.—Canada’s Kaillie Humphries continued her dominance of the world’s premier bobsleigh circuit, and the Whistler Sliding Centre track, by winning her sixth straight World Cup bobsleigh race on Friday night.
On the icy chute where she was crowned Canada’s first women’s Olympic gold medallist in bobsleigh, not to mention where her impressive six-race winning streak began last year, the 27-year-old Calgarian teamed up with new brakeman, Chelsea Valois of Zenon Park, Sask., to capture her seventh career victory on the World Cup.
The Canadian duo blasted through heavy snow at the top of the 1,450-metre track, which turned to pouring rain by the time the Canada 1 sled torpedoed around the 16th corner in the first run, to cruise to their their third straight title with a combined time of 1:48.68.
"The North American tracks like me and I like them too, so hopefully we can keep the streak going in Europe," said Humphries, whose impressive streak included a World Championship title last season. "I did think there was potential to get off to this start – especially seeing the tonnes of potential that Chelsea has shown all along. We have lots of work still to do but we are on the right track."
Humphries is nearly unbeatable on the spectacular 2010 Olympic sliding sport venue. Since striking Olympic gold the speedy blonde has two World Cup victories, and a silver medal in Whistler.
Valois’ start in the sport of bobsleigh is equally impressive. Since being nudged by her track and field teammates at the University of Regina to try bobsleigh this fall, the 25-year-old remains unbeaten, having pushed Humphries to a national title and three straight World Cup victories in her four competitive starts.
"I do have to pinch myself," laughed Valois. "I didn’t know what to expect when I joined the sport, but I knew by making Kailley’s team I’d have some success. That was a big accomplishment for me. I have been learning as I go, and still have lots of work to do, but it has been good so far."
Switzerland’s Fabienne Meyer and Elisabeth Graf were well back of the Canadians in second at 1:49.37, while Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis and Berit Wiacker clocked-in at 1:49.50 for the bronze.
Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti and Calgary’s Kate O’Brien were the only other Canadians entered, and placed 13th (1:51.04).
The Canadian trail to the podium continued in the men’s two-man bobsleigh race when Olympic medal-winning teammates, Lyndon Rush, of Humboldt, Sask., and Calgary’s Lascelles Brown slid to the silver medal with a two-run time of 1:45.30.
It was the third two-man, and seventh overall World Cup medal of Rush’s career to go along with his Olympic bronze and World Championship silver medal that he won last year in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"I’m pretty good at crashing and coming back strong," said Rush, who was en route to gold with Brown last weekend in Park City before rolling the Canada 1 Eurotech sled near the bottom of the track.
"To be honest, I feel a little like it is gold or nothing here. I made a mistake on corner four, and it was a costly one."
It was the first medal for the high-powered Canadian duo since Brown returned to the program this summer after a two-year hiatus.
"I’m happy to be back and I think Lyndon did a fantastic job today," said Brown following the flower ceremony under the lights at the 2010 Olympic venue. "He wanted to win, but to me, finishing second is a fantastic job. We can get better because he is a fantastic driver."
American Steven Holcomb also extended his perfect season, winning his third straight two-man race, after teaming up with Steven Langton to clock the top two-run time at 1:45.26. The Germany 3 sled of Francesco Friedrich and Jannis Baecker finished tied for third with Russia’s Alexander Zubkov and Dmitry Trunenkov to round out the men’s podium in third place with a time of 1:45.60.
Canada 2 pilot, Chris Spring, took advantage of a courageous coaching decision to shuffle up the teams, and get all of the nation’s top brakemen pushing the three Canada sleds. The 28-year-old Calgarian joined forces with Jesse Lumsden, of Burlington, Ont., to clock his career-best finish in fifth place with a time of 1:45.90.
Lumsden pushed Rush at the season-opener, and will be back in the Canada 1 four-man sled Saturday.
"I was excited to race today," said Lumsden. "I really wanted to push Chris to his first medal. I was really hungry for that today. It really doesn’t matter who I’m pushing because at the end of the day it is all about Team Canada and the red and white."
World Cup rookie pilot, Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., also leaped at the opportunity to race with another member of Rush’s four-man team in Ottawa’s Cody Sorensen. The 25-year-old Kripps piloted the Canada 3 sled to a 12th-place finish with a time of 1:46.40. It was the first two-man World Cup race of Sorensen’s career.
The men’s bobsleigh race will be shown on Sportsnet ONE on November 25 at 6 p.m. EST, and on November 26 at 8 a.m. The women’s race from Whistler will be aired on Sportsnet ONE, November 24 at 9 p.m. EST.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in Whistler with the men’s skeleton and four-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:
Top-Five Women’s Bobsleigh Results:
1. Humphries, Calgary/Valois, Zenon Park, Sask., CAN 1, 1:48.68; 2. Meyer/Graf, SUI 1, 1:49.37; 3. Kiriasis/Wiacker, GER 1, 1:49.50; 4. Kamphuis/Kanis, NED 1, 1:49.57; 5. Martini/Senkel, GER 2, 1:49.59
Other Canadian Results:
13. Ciochetti, Edmonton/O’Brien, Calgary, CAN 2, 1:51.04
Top-Five Two-Man Bobsleigh Results:
1. Holcomb/Langton, USA 1, 1:45.26; 2. Rush, Humboldt, Sask./Brown, Calgary, CAN 1, 1:45.30; T3. Friedrich/Baecker, Ger 3, 1:45.60; T3. Zubkov/Trunenkov, RUS 1, 1:45.60; 5. Spring, Calgary/Lumsden, Burlington, Ont., CAN 2, 1:45.90
Other Canadian Results:
12. Kripps, Summerland, B.C./Sorensen, Ottawa, CAN 3, 1:46.40