Kaillie Humphries in dispute with Canada bobsled federation

Kaillie Humphries
AP
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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.

MORE: Humphries named Canada Athlete of the Year

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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