WHISTLER, B.C. — Canadian bobsled star Kaillie Humphries added another gold medal to her trophy case Saturday, finishing first in the season-opening World Cup on the track where she won her first Olympic gold six years ago.
Humphries, of Calgary, and brakeman Cynthia Appiah of Toronto had a two-run total time of one minute 46.53 seconds at the Whistler Sliding Center, also breaking the track's start record Humphries previously set during the 2010 Olympic Games with a push time of 5.09 seconds.
It was Humphries' and Appiah's first race as a pair, and Appiah's first-ever appearance in a two-woman World Cup event.
"I'm just really happy with how Cynthia and I performed," said Humphries. "I had two good runs from the driving perspective, we pushed really well - a start record - so overall that's more what I'm excited about, regardless of the result. It was a tough race and tough competition…. I love this place, this is my favourite track on tour, so great to start off on a win but I'm more happy with our performance than anything."
"I'm pretty excited," Appiah added. "I was like a ball of nerves at the top before that first run, and then once I got that push, I was like, okay, now I know what I'm doing, this is my role and I've done it well."
As for breaking a track record in her first two-woman World Cup race, "it's crazy," Appiah said.
"I had a goal coming into this race that I wanted to break that record and I didn't want to be confident because anything could happen on race day, but once we got down and I actually hit the number that I said I wanted to hit… and now we've come away with the gold medal, it sets up the season so well."
It was the 18th victory and 38th World Cup medal for Humphries.
Christina Hengster and Sanne Monique Dekker of Austria placed second in 1:46.77 and Americans Jamie Poser Greubel and Lauren Gibbs were third in 1:46.86.
Humphries won her second Olympic gold medal in Sochi in 2014, becoming the first female bobsledder to successfully defend her Olympic title.
Edmonton's Alysia Rissling, competing in her second-ever World Cup following an appearance two years ago in Calgary, and veteran brakeman Melissa Lotholz of Barrhead, Alta., were fourth in 1:47.12.
"This (World Cup), I felt like I was ready to compete and to come fourth place, I'm pretty pumped about that," said Rissling.
"A 100 per cent working with Kaillie and winning on this track last year, I think I brought a lot of experience to it today and I think we teamed up and did really well," added Lotholz. "We're excited for the rest of the season to see where things go."
Canada's third sled, carrying Christine de Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., and Quebec City's Genevieve Thibault, finished 12th, clocking in at 1:48.70.
Justin Kripps, Jesse Lumsden, Josh Kirkpatrick and Ben Coakwell were the top Canadians in the four-man bobsled, coming in fifth place with a two-run time of 1:43.03. Canada's second team of Chris Spring, Cameron Stones, Lascelles Brown and Neville Wright came sixth in 1:43.09.
The fifth-place finish was disappointing for pilot Kripps and brakeman Lumsden, who narrowly missed out on the podium in Friday night's two-man race.
"I wanted to do better than that," said Kripps.
"We've just got to figure out where our deficits are and push faster, drive better and get our equipment sorted out. I think we definitely have to start faster as a crew and we need to figure out what these guys are doing with their equipment that's making them so fast."
Russia's Alexander Kasjanov, Alexey Zaitsev, Aleksei Pushkarev and Maxim Belugin won the event in 1:42.51. Switzerland's Rico Peter, Thomas Amrhein, Janne Bror van der Zijde and Simon Friedli were second in 1:42.71 while Germany's Johannes Lochner, Matthias Kagerhuber, Sebastian Mrowka and Christian Rasp rounded out the podium in 1:42.94.
The German team's presence on the podium was particularly impressive after entering the second heat in 11th place.
The third Canadian sled — consisting of Nick Poloniato, Daniel Sunderland, Derek Plug and Keenan MacDougall — came 11th in 1:53.25. It was MacDougall's World Cup debut.
Earlier Saturday, Yun Sung-bin won the men's skeleton in 1:45.86 seconds. Russia's Alexander Tretiakov was second in 1:45.98, and Matt Antoine of the U.S. used the strength of a flawless second heat to grab the bronze in 1:46.22.
Barrett Martineau of Calgary was the top Canadian in 10th.