LA PLAGNE, Fra.—Canada’s Kaillie Humphries is having the bobsleigh run of her life. The Olympic champion rattled off an unprecedented eighth straight victory at a World Cup on Friday in La Plagne, France.
“I wouldn’t have guessed this would happen at the beginning of the year, but I’m not shocked either,” said Humphries. “I think everyone believes they are capable of something like this, and always hope for it, so I’m very happy we have been able to do it.”
Calgary’s Humphries, and rookie brakeman, Chelsea Valois, of Zenon Park, Sask., shattered the field by posting the fastest time in both heats - 1:01.55 and 1:01.75 - to post a golden two-run time of 2:03.30 down the 1,507-metre La Plagne track that is nestled in a valley of the French Alps.
“Kaillie absolutely nailed the first run which was key because this track deteriorates so quickly,” said Tom Delahunty, head coach, Canadian Bobsleigh Team. “She breezed her way in on the second run. I really have never seen anything like this in the sport. The Germans have dominated in the past, but never just one athlete. It was always two or three of them. It really is impressive.”
Two American sleds completed a North American sweep of the podium. Jamie Greubel and Emily Azevedo teamed up in the USA 2 sled to win the silver at 2:03.57. Elana Meyers drove the USA 1 sled to the bronze medal at 2:03.81 with Katie Eberling on the brakes.
It is only the second time ever that Humphries has competed in La Plagne where she also won gold last year. Her dominant win Friday was her ninth career World Cup victory, bringing her career World Cup medal total to 16.
“I think this track likes me and I like it,” said Humprhies. “It is nice to come back to a track and win again. That is very important to me.”
The hottest athlete in Canada these days, Humphries has put together one of the most dominant runs in the history of amateur sport in the country. The first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal, the 27-year-old Humphries has blazed a golden track around the world which began 11 months ago when she returned to the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler to win gold with Emily Baadsvik, of St. Stephen, N.B. One week later she teamed up with Edmonton’s Jenny Ciochetti to win in Calgary. She then took her Eurotech sled south to Lake Placid with Ciochetti where they became the first Canadian women to win a World Championship title in bobsleigh.
A summer of relentless training, the blonde bomber welcomed bobsleigh rookie Valois to her crew, and wasted no time getting her to the top of the podium. After successfully winning the Canadian Championships in Valois’ first-ever competitive bobsleigh race in a final tune-up for the World Cup, Humphries returned to Lake Placid to win again. Her drive for five was completed in Park City, Utah before heading back to Whistler where she matched Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis’ six-race winning streak during the 2004-05/2005-2006 seasons. The Canadian duo then crushed any comments of her winning in just North America when Humphries broke the record with her seventh victory in a row last week in Winterberg, Germany.
“We have really taken every race one at a time this year, and our coaches and support structure this entire year has been amazing,” said Humprhies. “But we still have lots of work to do. Chelsea and I know the Americans are still the fastest on the starts, and the Germans are still the best at driving. We have lots of room to grow, but we are going to continue working hard together so we can achieve our ultimate goal of standing on top of the podium in Sochi.”
Equally as impressive is Valois’ start in the sport. The soft-spoken, yet determined, Valois is also putting her name in the history books as the only bobsleigh athlete in the world to remain unbeaten in her first five races on the World Cup.
“What Chelsea is doing has never been done before so that is history in the making on its own,” said Humphries. “She works so hard, is very intelligent and wants to get to her optimal potential. We are going to keep working together to be our very best.”
Valois joined the Canadian Bobsleigh program this fall through the encouragement of her track and field teammates at the University of Regina to try bobsleigh.
“I <pinch> myself all the time,” laughed Valois. “I knew if I made Kaillie’s team I would have some success, but this is absolutely awesome. Every track is new to me, and I still have a lot to learn, but today was another great day and continued proof that Kaillie and I are working well together.”
Jenny Ciochetti teamed up with Emily Baadsvik in the only other Canadian sled on Friday, and finished 12th with a time of 2:05.14.
Earlier in the day, two Canadian sleds fought their way into the top-10 in men’s skeleton action. Eric Neilson, of Kelowna, B.C., was eighth at 2:04.14, while Jon Montgomery, of Russell, Man., finished ninth at 2:04.30. Calgary’s John Fairbairn rounded out the Canadian contingent in 12th with a time of 2:05.02.
Latvia’s Martins Dukurs continued his dominance of the men’s skeleton circuit, winning for the fourth time this year. Dukurs clocked a time of 2:02.00. Russia’s Alexander Tretjyakov slid to the silver medal spot on the podium with a time of 2:02.54, while Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs grabbed the bronze at 2:02.92.
The World Cup continues on Saturday in France with men’s bobsleigh and women’s skeleton racing.
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. Humphries, Calgary/Valois, Zenon Park, Sask., CAN 1, 2:03.30; 2. Greubel/Azevedo, USA 1, 2:03.57; 3. Meyers/Eberling, USA 1, 2:03.81; 4. Kiriasis/Wiacker, GER 2, 2:04.10; 5. Schneiderheinze/Bertels, GER 1, 2:014.13
Other Canadian Results:
12. Ciochetti, Edmonton/Baadsvik, St. Stephen, N.B., CAN 2, 2:05.14
Top-Five Men’s Skeleton Results:
1. Martins Dukurs, LAT, 2:02.00; 2. Alexander Tretjyakov, RUS, 2:02.54; 3. Tomass Dukurs, LAT, 2:02.92; 4. Sergei Chudinov, RUS, 2:02.42; 5. Alexander Kroeckel, GER, 2:03.56.
8. Eric Neilson, Kelowna, B.C., 2:04.14; 9. Jon Montgomery, Russell, Man., 2:04.30; 12. John Fairbairn, Calgary, 2:05.02.