Kaillie Humphries, Elana Meyers Taylor break gender barrier in bobsled World Cup

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Olympic gold and silver medalists Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor became the first women to drive four-man bobsleds in World Cup competition in Calgary on Saturday.

The Canadian Humphries and American Meyers Taylor piloted their sleds to 15th and 16th places, respectively, out of 17 total sleds at the 1988 Olympic venue.

“Everyone was so excited to see us race today and it really helped me realize the significance of the moment,” Meyers Taylor said, according to U.S. Bobsled. “There were some little girls at the track that were excited to watch women’s bobsled today, and hopefully what Kaillie and I are doing inspires them. I hope someday a woman racing in four-man isn’t news.”

Latvian Oskars Melbardis won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.84 seconds. The 14th-place Russian sled, just ahead of Humphries, was .96 behind. Humphries was 1.03 seconds behind. Meyers Taylor was 1.68 back.

The last-place sled, driven by Latvian Olympian Oskars Kibermanis, crashed in the first run, finished eight seconds slower than the field and did not start the second run.

World Cup four-man bobsled was made gender neutral beginning this season, a rule change that Humphries petitioned for before she won her second straight two-woman gold in Sochi in February.

Humphries and Meyers Taylor, friends who call their rivalry a “Battle Royale,” were driving with World Cup rookie crews in their nations’ No. 3 sleds.

Earlier Saturday, Meyers Taylor won the two-woman competition in Calgary. Humphries was third.

“It was more challenging than I expected to switch from a two-man sled to a four-man sled in one day, so I take it with a grain of salt and feel blessed to have the opportunity to be racing in both disciplines,” Meyers Taylor said. “It was fun, although I can’t say I’m too thrilled about my driving in the four-man sled.”

The bobsled World Cup continues in Altenberg, Germany, from Jan. 9-11. Meyers Taylor will not compete in four-man in Altenberg, according to U.S. Bobsled.

“I’m not sure why women racing four-man was ever a question,” said 2010 Olympic champion Steven Holcomb, who finished seventh Saturday. “Driving is a skill, it’s not gender biased. Elana and Kaillie did a great job today, and they proved women are capable of racing in four-man. Hopefully it increases interest.”

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