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Kaillie Humphries wins in first bobsled World Cup since country switch

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Kaillie Humphries’ World Cup bobsled debut for the United States was a winning one.

The former Canadian bobsled star won the season opener Saturday, posting the fastest time in both heats in Lake Placid, N.Y., for her 23rd World Cup victory — and her first for the U.S.

Humphries teamed with Lauren Gibbs to finish two runs in 1 minute, 53.48 seconds.

“I’ve been through a lot emotionally over the last year, so knowing I have the skill to focus and turn it on when I need to builds confidence,” said Humphries, who won two Olympic golds for Canada. “I can rely on my teammates and they trust me back. Some things aren’t perfect, but I’m a high-performing athlete and there will always be things I want to improve on.”

That might be bad news for the rest of the women’s bobsled circuit. Humphries showed no rust whatsoever in her first World Cup race in nearly two years.

The event Saturday was Humphries’ first major international race since she won the bronze for Canada at the PyeongChang Olympics. She sat out last season after filing a complaint with Canadian officials and saying she no longer felt safe in that nation’s program.

She gained her release to join the U.S. team in September and competed in a pair of North American Cup races last month.

Germany’s Stephanie Schneider drove to the silver, and Germany also got the bronze in the sled piloted by Kim Kalicki. Schneider was nearly one-third of a second behind Humphries, Kalicki nearly a half-second back. In bobsled, those are significant margins.

“This feels fantastic to start the season so strong,” Humphries said. “It’s a great way to start this next chapter. The team has been so supportive and there’s been an incredible team effort this week to make this win happy today. I’m feeling really happy and proud.”

Humphries learned to drive on the Lake Placid track, and has had enormous success there. She’s now won nine major international medals on that track — five golds, including the 2012 World Championship, along with a silver and three bronzes.

She gets a chance to add to her total next weekend, when the second World Cup race of the season is also held there. Lake Placid is hosting two World Cups this season because the planned opener in Park City, Utah, had to be moved because of mechanical problems at the 2002 Olympic track.

Also for the U.S., the sled driven by Brittany Reinbolt and pushed by Sylvia Hoffman was seventh — exactly one second behind Humphries. Hoffman is scheduled to push for Humphries next weekend.

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Kaillie Humphries kicks off U.S. bobsled career, easily clinches World Cup spot

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Two-time Olympic bobsled gold medalist Kaillie Humphries, who switched her allegiance from Canada to the United States in September, finished second and first in two North American Cup races this week to clinch her spot on the U.S. team’s roster for the upcoming World Cup season.

The North American Cup races at Lake Placid, N.Y., doubled as U.S. team trials after track issues forced the cancellation of trials last week at Utah Olympic Park. Brittany Reinbolt and Lauren Gibbs had already clinched their spots on the six-woman team by winning the U.S. championship in March.

On Tuesday, Humphries and Gibbs finished second in Humphries’ first competition since the 2018 Olympics, where she won bronze. She had a bumpy entrance to the sled in her first run and trailed former Canadian teammate Christine de Bruin by 0.32 seconds, then was unable to make up the margin despite having the fastest time in the second run.

On Wednesday, Humphries and Sylvia Hoffman had the fastest start and fastest time in each run, easily outrunning de Bruin by a combined 0.54 seconds.

Reinbolt and Gibbs were fourth on Tuesday and third on Wednesday, just ahead of fellow Americans Kristi Joplin and Jasmine Jones in each race.

In the men’s competition, which had only three pilots in action, U.S. champion Codie Bascue and Josh Williamson won the first two-man bobsled race on Monday, finishing ahead of Canadian gold medalist Justin Kripps. Bascue injured his hamstring in the second two-man race and didn’t compete in the four-man races.

Hunter Church and Blaine McConnell took third in one of the two-man races. Church then took second and third in the four-man races.

Skeleton athletes already had their trials but also competed in the North American Cup, where four-time Olympian and 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender rebounded from narrowly missing the World Cup squad to win her first two international races since the 2018 Olympics.

The U.S. teams for the World Cups:

WOMEN 

Pilots: Reinbolt (USA 1), Humphries (USA 2), Joplin (USA 3)

Push athletes: Gibbs, Hoffman, Jones

MEN

Pilots: Bascue (USA 1), Church (USA 2), Geoff Gadbois (USA 3)

Push athletes: Williamson, McConnell, Adrian Adams, Chris Avery, Michael Fogt, Kris Horn, Dakota Lynch, Jimmy Reed, Kyle Wilcox

The World Cup series begins Dec. 7-8 in Lake Placid.

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Steven Holcomb’s family and teammates set to collect 2014 medals at Team USA Awards

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Two years after his passing, Steven Holcomb remains a beloved figure in the U.S. bobsled community. Tonight in Los Angeles at the Team USA Awards, Holcomb will be honored once again when his team’s silver medals, reallocated after Russian medalists in 2014 were stripped of their medals due to doping offenses, are presented to his teammates and several members of his family.

Holcomb’s journey to Olympic stardom was long and difficult. He was born and raised in Park City, Utah, one of the epicenters of U.S. sliding sports, and just missed out on an opportunity to compete in the 2002 Olympics in his hometown at age 21.

Over the next 15 years, he won six overall World Cup titles and five world championships. He was still a consistent contender in his final season, finishing second in the two-man World Cup standings and third in the four-man.

He was also an inspirational figure in U.S. bobsled and skeleton from the beginning of his career. When he started sliding, his then-girlfriend, Tristan Gale, took up skeleton and won gold in 2002.

His shining moment was in 2010 in Vancouver, when he, Steve Mesler, Curt Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen became the first U.S. bobsledders to win gold in 62 years.

Getting to Vancouver itself was a miracle. He had been diagnosed with an eye problem called keratoconus that was robbing him of his sight. Though he adapted to driving by feel, the condition and the prospect of losing his bobsled career pushed him into depression, and he attempted suicide in 2007.

His vision was restored by eye surgeon Brian Boxer Wachler using a revolutionary technique now named after its most famous patient — Holcomb C3-R. He appeared with Boxer Wachler on the TV show “The Doctors” to talk about how the surgery changed his career and life, and he and Steve Eubanks wrote a book called “But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold.”

In the 2014 Olympics, he was on the podium again twice. Steve Langton was with him in the two-man and four-man, while Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt filled out the four-man squad.

Those medals are being exchanged for silver tonight at the Team USA Awards, where his teammates and fellow medalists will be joined by his parents and sisters.

Holcomb passed away in his sleep in May 2017 and was honored in an emotional tribute the next month at Utah Olympic Park.

And he’s still present at Utah Olympic Park in an unusual way. Rails from one of his bobsleds are now door handles at athlete housing.

The awards ceremony will also honor the top male and female Olympic and Paralympic athletes and teams of the year, along with the top national coaches and the winner of the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award.

Award finalists:

Olympic men 

  • Nathan Chen, figure skating
  • Caeleb Dressel, swimming
  • Brady Ellison, archery
  • Vincent Hancock, shooting
  • Noah Lyles, track and field

Olympic women 

  • Simone Biles, gymnastics
  • Adeline Gray, wrestling
  • Simone Manuel, swimming
  • Dalilah Muhammad, track and field
  • Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine skiing

Olympic team 

  • Equestrian jumping
  • Women’s soccer
  • Women’s softball
  • Men’s 4x100m relay, track and field
  • Women’s water polo

Paralympic men 

  • Joe Berenyi, Para-cycling
  • Noah Elliott, Para snowboarding
  • Robert Griswold, Para swimming
  • Daniel Romanchuk, Para track and field
  • Ben Thompson, Para archery

Paralympic women 

  • Kendall Gretsch, Para Nordic skiing and paratriathlon
  • Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para-cycling
  • Allysa Seely, paratriathlon
  • Leanne Smith, Para swimming
  • Deja Young, Para track and field

Paralympic team 

  • Men’s Para archery
  • Women’s sitting volleyball
  • Sled hockey
  • Men’s wheelchair basketball
  • Men’s wheelchair rugby

The ceremony will be broadcast on NBC at 3 p.m. ET Dec. 22.

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