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Kaillie Humphries released by Canada to bobsled for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries will be allowed to compete for the United States this season and beyond, after Canadian officials announced Saturday night that they are granting her request to be released from their program.

It’s a massive boost for the American program, adding one of the most decorated pilots in bobsled history.

Humphries’ career for Canada was stellar. She won two Olympic golds, an Olympic bronze, two world titles, four overall World Cup titles, 22 World Cup races and took home 48 World Cup medals in her 11 seasons — finishing among the top three sleds in more than half of her career races on the top circuit.

But after weeks of negotiations, mediation sessions, involvement by bobsledding’s governing body, a harassment complaint against a Canadian coach and even the filing of a lawsuit, Canadian officials decided to give Humphries the release that she sought. She began asking for permission to slide for the U.S. in August.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for and we cannot wait to work with Kaillie,” said USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn, who was unaware of the Canadian decision until a call seeking comment from The Associated Press. “I’m incredibly excited to have a two-time Olympic champion, multiple-time world champion and one of the best drivers ever in our sport on our team.”

Humphries, who married former U.S. bobsledder Travis Armbruster last weekend, did not immediately return requests for comment.

“This was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly,” Bobsled Canada Skeleton officials said in announcing the decision. “Alongside our stakeholders, we carefully weighed all the relevant factors in this important and complex decision of releasing a medal-potential athlete to one of our top competitors.”

USA Bobsled and Skeleton said it was “honored” by Humphries’ desire to slide for the Americans — and acknowledged that the decision to release athletes and permit them to slide for other nations is never easy.

“USABS recognizes this was not an easy decision for BCS,” said interim USABS CEO John Rosen. “We believe, however, that ultimately they made the correct decision to honor the desires of this athlete over the interests of the federation. USABS has, on multiple occasions, faced similar decisions in dealing with athletes who have requested release from our program. In each and every case we reached the same conclusion as BCS did with Kaillie.”

Humphries needed the release by Monday in order to be eligible to slide for the U.S. this season. She did not compete last season after filing the harassment complaint.

“Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton took Kaillie’s allegations extremely seriously,” Canadian officials wrote in the open letter announcing Humphries’ release. “Investigating these allegations to their fullest was our number-one priority to ensure a safe training and competitive environment for everyone involved in our sport. The investigation found insufficient evidence of Kaillie’s allegations.”

Humphries’ lawyer, Jeffrey Rath, said the decision is a clear win for his client.

“We are convinced that this release would not have happened had Kaillie not been forced to bring the litigation that she did against Bobsled Canada,” Rath said. “We’re grateful that in the end Bobsled Canada grudgingly granted Kaillie the release.”

The next step for Humphries will be to technically make the U.S. team, which she’ll aim for at the team trials in Park City, Utah, in early November. The Americans will be without three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor — one of Humphries’ closest friends — this season, while she and her husband prepare to become parents for the first time.

The World Cup season opens Nov. 29 in Park City.

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Elana Meyers Taylor is pregnant, to miss bobsled season

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Elana Meyers Taylor, a triple Olympic bobsled medalist, is due to have her first child in March and will miss this bobsled season.

“It was always my dream to win two gold medals in the 2022 Olympics and place them around the neck of our child,” Meyers Taylor said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “When we were told by doctors that this might not be possible, I put all my efforts into winning two gold medals in 2022. However, they were wrong, and now I have the chance to live this dream. We are excited for our little miracle.”

Meyers Taylor and husband Nic Taylor, a veteran U.S. bobsledder, were married in April 2014 after meeting through the sport in 2011. They have competed together in international four-person bobsled races with Meyers Taylor driving.

Meyers Taylor earned Olympic bronze as a push athlete in 2010, then silver medals as a driver in 2014 and 2018. She also earned world titles in 2015 and 2017.

Meyers Taylor’s longtime Canadian rival, Kaillie Humphries, could also miss the season as she bids to switch representation to the U.S. A Canadian judge ruled against her on Tuesday, though U.S. Bobsled has said it would welcome her should she be released from Bobsleigh Canada.

German Mariama Jamanka, the surprise PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist, has taken over as the world’s top driver, winning last season’s World Cup and world championship titles.

The World Cup season starts in late November.

MORE: Kaillie Humphries loses bid to bobsled for U.S.

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Kaillie Humphries loses bid to bobsled for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries‘ bid to switch from Canada to compete for the U.S. was denied by a Calgary judge on Tuesday.

“Humphries has chosen not to avail herself of Bobsled Canada’s dispute resolution,” a judge said, according to the Calgary Herald.

Humphries, a 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medalist, said she no longer wants to compete for Canada after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against Canadian coach Todd Hays, a 2002 and 2006 U.S. Olympian and former U.S. coach. She is suing the federation.

A Bobsleigh Canada lawyer said an independent investigation found not enough evidence to substantiate Humphries’ allegations.

“These are matters that should go to the sports tribunals,” the lawyer said of Humphries wanting to switch countries. “They should not be going before a court.”

Canada’s federation refuses to release her.

“Our mandate is to develop world, Olympic champions,” high-performance director Chris Le Bihan said Tuesday, according to CBC. “That’s what we do. Kaillie is obviously a world, Olympic champion. We want Kaillie in our program. Kaillie is obviously going to be a threat in the next Olympics, and there’s nothing we want to see more than Canadians standing on the podium.”

Humphries’ lawyer said after the ruling that they may appeal to the International Bobsled Federation to secure a release under exceptional circumstances of “unreasonable and unsportsmanlike” behavior from Bobsleigh Canada.

“It’s obvious that this is purely anti-competitive on the part of Bobsleigh Canada,” Humphries’ lawyer said. “The actions that they’re taking are simply to hamper Kaillie’s ability to compete for the United States.”

Humphries could be eligible to compete for the U.S. after marrying American bobsledder Travis Armbruster on Saturday.

Three athletes have competed for Canada at an Olympics, then for the U.S. at a later Olympics, but none were medalists for Canada. Humphries is one of Canada’s most accomplished Olympians. She won the 2014 Lou Marsh Trophy, viewed as the nation’s athlete of the year, and carried the flag at the Sochi Winter Games Closing Ceremony.

Humphries, 34, earned a bronze medal in PyeongChang then announced last October that she would take the 2018-19 season off at least in part to strengthen her recent engagement with Armbruster.

“This has been my life, it’s been a 15-year career,” a tearful Humphries said in a CBC video interview last week. “This is everything that I dreamed of since I was a kid, and to know that a country has supported me so strongly, and the people in the country have been so great.”

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