Canada’s bobsleigh gold specialist
The only two-time champion in Olympic women’s bobsleigh, Kaillie Humphries is the proud owner of three medals in all, having won bronze at PyeongChang 2018 to go with the golds she won at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014. The Calgary-born driver has also collected nine World Championship medals and won four IBSF World Cup titles – putting together one of the finest career records her sport has ever seen.
Disappointment in Turin
Kaillie Humphries began her international career as a brakewoman, earning a place in the Canadian team for Turin 2006. After parading with the rest of the delegation at the Opening Ceremony, her dreams of competing were dashed when she was informed by team management that she would not be taking part. “I just started crying and went to my room. I thought, ‘Do I stay here and gain experience or do I go home?’” she said. “I decided to stay and support my team by cheering them on. I thought I couldn’t let that be my Olympic experience, so that was when I made the decision to become a bobsleigh pilot.”
Victory in Vancouver
Humphries began training with brakewoman Heather Moyse, and it was not long before impressive results started to come their way on the world tour. After winning their first FIBT World Cup race at Altenberg in December 2009, they headed to Vancouver 2010 ranked second in the world. On board Canada 1, Humphries and Moyse swept the rest of the field aside, beating the Whistler Sliding Centre start and track records in each of the first three runs to claim a convincing gold. In becoming the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic bobsleigh title and the first Canadian to win gold in a two-man event, Humphries also secured what was only her country’s second ever bobsleigh crown, 46 years on from Peter Kirby, Doug Anakin and John and Vic Emery’s win in the four-man event at Innsbruck.
Different partners, same result
The Calgary pilot went on to become the world No1, a status she would retain with various partners. After Moyse moved on, Humphries won the 2011-12 World Cup title with Emily Baadsvik, and then teamed up with Jennifer Ciochetti to land the world title in Lake Placid in February 2012. The following season, this time partnered by Chelsea Valois, she scored an incredible six consecutive World Cup wins, a feat she capped by retaining her world title in St Moritz in January 2013.
A landmark achievement
In the meantime, Humphries also represented her country at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup and competed in international track cycling events before undergoing hip surgery in 2012. She was reunited with Moyse at the start of the 2013-14 season, with the pair gradually finding their form before delivering a stunning performance at Sochi 2014. Trailing the US pair Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams going into the fourth and final run, the Canadians produced a scintillating descent to pip their rivals by 0.10 seconds and become the first duo ever to retain the Olympic two-woman title.
“It’s hard to express how I feel,” Humphries later said. “There have been a lot of sacrifices, not only on my part but by my friends and my family. And Heather has come back on board after having had an operation. This is something that we’ve done together and it’s a fantastic feeling. After the third run I knew that if we did our job we’d make it to the top.”
More World Cup wins
By the end of the 2013/14 season, Humphries had won her second two-woman World Cup title. After finishing second to Elana Meyers-Taylor the following year, she won the World Cup for a third time in 2015/16 before taking second place again, this time behind the USA’s Jamie Greubel Poser.
A vociferous advocate of the four-woman bobsleigh, Humphries drove a mixed bob and then formed part of an all-woman bob that competed against all-male crews in the IBSF World Cup in 2016, part of her campaign to have the four-woman included on the Olympic programme.
Prior to appearing at her fourth Winter Games, Humphries won the two-woman World Cup crown for a fourth time, triumphing in four of the eight events, with Melissa Lotholz behind her in the first part of the season and Phylicia George taking over brakewoman duties in the second. And it was with George that Humphries would go for Olympic gold again at PyeongChang 2018.
A bronze in Pyeongchang
The Canadian duo lay a lowly fifth after the first two runs at the Alpensia Sliding Centre, with Germany’s Mariana Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz fighting it out with Meyers-Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the USA for first place.
By the end of the third run Humphries and George had climbed up to third, where they would remain after the fourth, 0.44 seconds behind Jamanka and Buckwitz, who beat Meyers-Taylor and Gibbs to the gold by 0.07 seconds.
“This is probably my most emotional medal because of all the hard work we’ve put in, the investment we’ve put in and the importance of it,” said Humphries after becoming a three-time Olympic medallist. “I’m so happy right now. It’s a great honour to take part in the Olympic Games and represent Canada.”