Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries said she’s being forced to choose between two-woman bobsled and continuing to push the gender barrier in four-man by Canada’s bobsled federation, according to Canadian media.
“I’m mad,” Humphries said Wednesday after spending most of the previous two days crying at home, according to Postmedia News in Canada. “This sucks. I’m being told I can’t do something, because I’m a girl.”
Humphries and American Elana Meyers Taylor became the first women to pilot four-man bobsleds last season, but Humphries will likely not be driving in that event for at least the first three World Cups this season.
That’s not because of her gender but because the athletes behind Humphries are not skilled enough, according to Canada’s bobsled federation.
Six Canadian push athletes met the nation’s World Cup qualifying criteria in preseason training times, and with three push athletes (plus one spare) per sled, the nation will send one four-man sled to the first three World Cups rather than a potential three, according to Postmedia News.
Humphries is the third-ranked Canadian driver for four-man bobsleds, meaning that even if two more push athletes meet the qualifying times later in the season, she isn’t in line to drive that second sled.
“It’s an outrageous accusation that we’re standing in her way because she’s a woman,” Canada bobsled president Sarah Storey said, according to Postmedia News. “We set out months ago the objectives and clear selection criteria. These were published to all the athletes – Kaillie included – in July. The selection criteria were created with the goal of making sure that we field the best teams. … We don’t send people on the World Cup to develop, we don’t send them as tourists. We send them to win medals, to contend at every race.”
Humphries will compete in four-man at development-level North American Cup races in Calgary on Friday and Saturday but is unsure when she’ll drive them again, according to the Canadian Press.
The World Cup season starts the last weekend of November, with Humphries set to drive her two-woman sled on that circuit. It’s logistically hard to compete in both World Cup races in two-woman and lower-level North American or Europe Cup races in four-man in the middle of a season.
“I’m being forced to pick medals [in two-woman] over development of Canada 3 [four-man],” Humphries said, according to the Canadian Press. “I don’t feel there needs to be a choice made here. I feel I can step up to the challenge of doing both.”
Humphries had a best finish of 14th place in six World Cup four-man bobsled races last season.