Humphries reveals how little time it takes to master bobsled

Canada's pilot Kaillie Humphries (front) starts a two-women bobsleigh training run at the 2014...

Canada's pilot Kaillie Humphries (front) starts a two-women bobsleigh training run at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 16, 2014. (ARD WIEGMANN/Reuters)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:18 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - She is the gold medallist from the Vancouver Games and reigning world champion, yet you might be surprised how little time Kaillie Humphries actually spends in her sled.

Humphries and her bobsledding brakeman, Heather Moyse, came to Russia as one of Canada’s top gold medal hopes, a solid bet to repeat their triumph up in Whistler four years ago.

So how much time does the queen of her sport take to be the best female bobsled pilot in the world? Humphries has done the math and you might be surprised at the results.

“They said it takes 10 years to build a really good bobsleigh pilot,” Humphries said as she prepared to make Olympic history in her sport Tuesday. “I’m at Year 8 right now.

“They say it takes 10,000 hours to perfect any sport and in 10 years I only have 19 hours of actual bobsleigh driving. If you think about it, each run is about 50 to 58 seconds depending and on each track we get six training runs and two race runs.

“That’s a couple of hundred runs total and then you take seven months off where it’s physically impossible to do the sport.”

All the more impressive, then, that Humphries has arrived here in form and as a much more serious medal contender than at the 2010 Olympics. While Humphries and Moyse aren’t a lock for gold, they are clearly the sled to catch.

With four more years to refine her skills in the sport and mature as an athlete, she is reunited with Moyse after employing three other brakemen at various points since her Whistler win. Add that all together and she has a different mindset than she did in that scintillating win at the 2010 Games.

“Going into Vancouver it was a home Olympics and I was the underdog,” Humphries said. “Now I’m going in as the reigning champion in a foreign country. Everything has positives and negatives. One does not outweigh the other.

“Vancouver forever will be extremely special, but I plan to make new memories and take away something from every one.”

While she hasn’t lacked for confidence — a necessity in a sport that requires going for broke, twisting and turning down a mountainside at breakneck speed — Humphries is certainly sounding enthused of her chances Tuesday.

With a victory, Humphries and Moyse would join German Sandra Kiriasis as the only women to win multiple Olympic medals in bobsleigh.

“Mentally I’m stronger and physically I feel like I’m in a great position right now,” Humphries said. “It takes a whole package and it’s about balance.

“There’s definitely pressure for sure, but I put the most pressure on myself to repeat that gold medal-winning performance. The pressure I put on myself is greater than anything anybody else can put on me.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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