Bobsledders closing in on gold

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. - While so many of the world’s best sliders fear the speed at the Whistler Sliding Centre, a pair of Canadian women have embraced it.

And as a result, the bobsled duo of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have gold within their grasp on Blackcomb Mountain Wednesday night, sitting first after the opening two runs.

“Having a track record anywhere is good, it means you have been the fastest person down that track ever,” said Canada-1 pilot Humphries, after setting a records for fastest start and overall speed on their first run, despite measures taken by officials the past few days to temper the course.

“At the end of the day, I can do it even faster and even better tomorrow.”

If they do, there’s little doubt the Canadian pair, who had blistered the controversial track during training, will be standing high on the podium.

Their first run of the four-heat competition set an official speed record as they cranked the sled up to 1:46.9 kilometres at one point for a time of 53.19. A second run clocked in 53.01 gave them a total of 1:46.20, .13 better than the U.S. sled piloted by Erin Pac.

The Canada-2 sled of Hellen Upperton is in fourth at 1:46.62, just .02 away from Germany-2 for third. Further adding to the Canadian medal hopes is the fact that the reigning Olympic champion and now former track record holder Sandra Kiriaisis slipped all the way back to fifth.

Given the hold-your-breath nature of the challenges of the course and the possibility for error at almost every turn, the Canadians know being halfway home means next to nothing.

“If we start to think we have a cushion, then we’re screwed,” said brakeman Moyse. “For us, it’s not a four-heat race, for us it’s four separate races. If we can win all four races, then we’ve done our job.

“For me, there’s a new track record out there. “But the challenge is not to beat that, but to have the best run ever.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Kiriasis, while not out of it, will need some help to repeat the gold she won in Torino.

“I (screwed) up,” the German said in crude but rather pointed English. “Bad run, bad run, that’s all I can say.”

And good — and potentially golden — news for the Canadians.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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