Canadian women started the pre-Olympic Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup seasons in fine form on Friday with a string of three podium finishes that started with Olympic and World Champion Kaillie Humphries piloting her sled to gold with rookie brakeman Chelsea Valois.
The national champs overcame some miscues on some tight turns to blow away the field with a time of 1:54.86 to reward Humphries with her 13th World Cup medal. The win marked Valois’ first medal in her very first international event.
“We had some great training runs earlier in the week so I knew the potential was there for us to do great,” said Humphries fresh off her team’s victory. “The runs weren’t perfect, but we really stepped up together and I’m really happy with this result.”
The duo of the 27-year-old Humphries and 25-year-old Valois have been enjoying their early success in a season that Humphries has dubbed a “learning experience” for herself and newcomer Valois.
“Chelsea gets on board with all the info thrown to her from the veterans on the team and she’s done a good job in figuring out what works for her,” said Humphries of her new teammate. “There’s going to be a lot of new stuff along the way, but she’s been fantastic so far and a fast learner.”
In Skeleton, Canada proved to be the dominant country by earning the top two finishes of the day. Calgary’s 25-year-old Sarah Reid captured gold for her first World Cup medal with a combined time of 2:47.70. Mellisa Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., won silver with a time of 2:47.73.
“I am over the moon. There was so much excitement at the track and it was so loud at the start line that I just fed off that,” said Reid after the first World Cup victory of her young career. “I always felt like I’ve known that I’m capable of sliding with these very talented girls. This tells me that I can be there too and I’m pretty stoked.”
Hollingsworth’s silver on Friday was the 32nd medal of her 18-year career, but the veteran came off as even happier for Reid’s victory. The two have become close friends off the ice with Hollingsworth serving as a mentor during Reid’s career.
“Today was all about Sarah,” beamed Hollingsworth. “Going up the track I told Sarah that everyone here including me is rooting for you to win. I am just so incredibly happy for her.”
Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes will now travel to Park City, Utah for the next stop on the World Cup, November 12-17.