CALGARY - Two-time Canadian Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries won her first medal in a four-man event on Sunday, taking silver in the final tune-up race before the start of the World Cup season.
Humphries and her crew of Dan Dale, Joey Nemet, and D.J. McClelland sat in fourth spot after the first of two runs in the opening race of a double-header at the North America's Cup before taking advantage of their best-ever push time at 5.29 seconds to take silver at one minute, 50.50 seconds.
"I'm really proud of the guys today. That was a personal best start and then we matched it again on the second run," said Humphries. "I tweaked my hamstring earlier this week so that was all the guys. They really stepped it up and were great today."
Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., won the gold medal at 1:49.65.
The 27-year-old Olympian and his crew of Bryan Barnett, Ben Coakwell, and Tim Randall, clocked the fastest runs at 54:73 and 54:92 on each of his two blasts down the 14-corner track for the winning time.
"It was good today. I have some new crew members this year, and some are pushing from different spots so we are just continuing to work on our starts together," said Kripps. "We have a few things to tweak on equipment, but I think we are ready to go now for the World Cup. The goal this year is multiple podiums and to get my first medal in four-man."
Kripps, the reigning Canadian champion who did not compete in the second race Sunday, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014 when he won his first World Cup two-man race in Konigssee, Germany just weeks before driving in his first Olympic Games. Kripps also represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics where he was a member of Pierre Lueders' four-man crew.
Olympic silver medallist in women's bobsled, Elana Meyers Taylor from the United States locked up the bronze with a two-run time of 1:50.66 in the morning race.
Friends off the track, Humphries and Meyers Taylor have been chasing history this fall to be the first women to compete with the men in a World Cup four-man bobsled race, thanks to a new ruling by the FIBT that allows women to race with men.
The top-two women bobsled pilots in the world were competing in their third and fourth of five planned four-man races on three different tracks — a safety requirement set by the FIBT before any athlete is permitted to start on the World Cup.
Humphries and Meyers Taylor competed in their first two races last weekend in Park City, Utah, and will head to La Plagne, France in two weeks to complete the qualification journey. Humphries will most likely make her World Cup four-man debut on her home track in Calgary next month.
"Driving is driving so once you learn to do it you don't forget that," said Humphries. "The four-man is so fun. There is more weight and you can't really play with the sled and correct mistakes like I can in the two-man. It is all a learning process for me and it will make me a better two-man driver for sure. This is new for all of us, but my team and I know what this all means.
"We just want to go out, do our best, grow as a team and keep knocking spots off."
Humphries became the first Canadian woman to win two Olympic titles and two World Championship crowns in the sport. She also set a new win streak record at nine straight victories, and reached the podium in 15 consecutive races.
Meyers Taylor and her American crew were sitting in the gold medal position after the opening run of the afternoon race, but dropped a spot to finish second at 1:50.72. Humphries piloted the top Canadian sled in Race 2 to settle for a tie for fourth place at 1:51.87.
Great Britain's Lamin Deen, Keith McLaughlin, Justin Oro-Campos, and Andrew Matthews won the second race in 1:50.52. Americans Codie Bascue, Kris Enslen, David Cremin, and Trevor Christianson snagged bronze at 1:50.84.