Olympic bobsled gold and silver medalists Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor made history last season when they became the first women to pilot sleds in World Cup four-man races.
Humphries and Meyers Taylor each drove sleds with three men’s push athletes after four-man was declared gender-neutral.
To start 2016, Humphries is taking another unprecedented step. She will pilot an all-female sled against the men in World Cup races. The Canadian sled will debut in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday.
“I still think, with a proper men’s crew, I can be one of the best in the world,” Humphries said, according to the Toronto Sun. “But I have to take a side step and head up the women’s division. This is the direction Bobsleigh Canada would like me to head in, and I accept that graciously.”
Humphries, 30, competed in most of the 2014-15 World Cup four-man races with three men’s push athletes and posted a best finish of 14th. She beat some men’s sleds, but it will be tougher with three female push athletes with less training time together.
“We’re going to go out and do the best we can, and it would be amazing if we can beat some of the tiny, tiny nations that aren’t necessarily the best in bobsleigh with the women’s crew,” Humphries said, according to the Canadian Press. “That’s one of our internal goals, to beat one men’s team at some point.”
Neither Humphries nor Meyers Taylor competed in the first three World Cup four-man races this season — Humphries had a dispute with Bobsleigh Canada, while Meyers Taylor is dealing with long-term concussion effects.
A first-ever exhibition four-woman race will take place at the World Championships in Igls, Austria, on Feb. 21. Humphries hopes four-woman will eventually be an Olympic event, after two-woman bobsled debuted at Salt Lake City 2002.
“The first step was proving that we could drive the four-man sled, which is what Elana and I did on the circuit last year,” Humphries said, according to the newspaper. “So the whole goal of us doing everything is for us to be able to turn women’s four-man into an Olympic event.”