When asked to sum up the secret to becoming a great champion in 30 seconds, Kaillie Humphries replied: “I dreamed of standing at the top of the Olympic podium since I was seven. There have been numerous things that have helped along the way: the support of my family, friends and sponsors, sacrifice, commitment, hard work and the dedication that I’ve always had inside me. I work at it every single day!”
Humphries began her international career as a brakeman, earning a call-up to the Canadian Olympic team ahead of Turin 2006. After parading with her countrymen during the Opening Ceremony, she assumed she was on the verge of making her Games debut, until the coaching staff informed her that she would not be competing. “Right away, I just started crying and went to my room,” Humphries recalled. “I thought, 'Do I stay here and gain experience from 2006 or do I go home?' I decided to stay and support my team by cheering them on. I decided I couldn't let that be my Olympic experience. That's when I decided to become a bobsled pilot."
Humphries began training with brakeman Heather Moyse, and the pair soon started to pick up significant results on the world circuit. After winning their first FIBT World Cup race in Altenberg (GER) on 19 December 2009, they arrived in Vancouver ranked number two in the world and harbouring serious hopes of a podium finish. On 20-21 February 2010 at the Whistler Sliding Centre, Humphries and Moyse – on board Canada-1 – beat the push-start record and the track record three times in a row during their first three runs. In doing so the duo became the first Canadian women to clinch an Olympic bobsleigh title, and their country’s first gold medallists in the sport since the ground-breaking success of Peter Kirby, Doug Anakin, John Emery and Vic Emery in the four-man event at Innsbruck 1964.
Different partners, same result
Building on that momentum, the Calgary native rose to the top of the rankings in tandem with several different brakemen. Following her partnership with Moyse, Humphries amassed several victories during the 2011-2012 season competing alongside Emily Baadsvik, and then became world champion at Lake Placid (USA) in February 2012 with Jennifer Ciochetti. The following campaign, in tandem with Chelsea Valois, she racked up a remarkable run of six consecutive World Cup successes, and repeated her World Championship triumph in St. Moritz (SUI) on 26 January 2013. “I’m absolutely ecstatic,” she said at the time. “All year long, our goal has been to win the Worlds, and that’s what we’ve done. It’s the perfect end to a brilliant season, and managing it here in St. Moritz is a real high for any bobsledder.”
For the 2013-2014 season Humphries has renewed her partnership with Moyse, who has returned to bobsleigh after a four-year “sporting sabbatical” trying her hand at rugby and cycling! And it did not take long for the two to return to winning ways. In December they notched World Cup victories in Calgary (CAN) and Lake Placid (USA), suggesting they are firmly on track to defend their Olympic title in Sochi.
The two-time world champion, meanwhile, has been making the most of every minute of training, often pushing vehicles in bobsleigh track car parks to keep her body and mind in tune. “Before I compete on race day, I really try to visualise everything I am going to do in advance of a workout or competition. You need to be able to see it to do it, and being able to be mentally sharp and block out what I don't need is part of that for me. I go through it over and over again to be the best I can be.” On the Sanki track in Sochi, Humphries will have the opportunity to remind the world just how good she really is, as she and Moyse go in search of a second Olympic crown.
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