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Humphries leads women’s monobob Olympic competition after first two heats,
Meyers Taylor in medal hunt in fourth
Kaillie Humphries at the start in today's first heat.
Photo credit: Viesturs Lacis | IBSF
YANQING, China (February 13, 2022) – The American women’s bobsledders are in position to take two medals at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre. Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, Calif.) was dominant in the first two heats of the women’s monobob Olympic competition, taking the overnight lead by 1.04 seconds. Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) is just 0.10 seconds from bronze in fourth place.
“Not hitting out of 13, that would be a lot more perfect,” Humphries said about her lead. “Today was a good day. I’m happy with the pushing and the driving but I left some out on the table. There’s still more that I can do, so we’re going to go back now, forget about today. I’m very aware that anything can happen on day two and so I need to continue to put my best foot forward straight into tomorrow.”
Humphries had the track dialed in today, setting a new track record of 1:04.44 in the first heat to give herself an early lead of 0.30 seconds. She threaded together a flawless second run of 1:04.66 to widen the gap by an additional 0.74 seconds. Humphries is on track to win historic gold with a two-run combined time of 2:09.10.
“I’m literally just pretending like today didn’t exist and having a fresh race tomorrow,” Humphries said. “Easier said than done, I can promise you that, but at the end of the day I’ve had practice at doing it and I’ve won and I’ve lost in this position. Tomorrow is a brand new day and so I need to focus on having the best pushes and the best drives that I can do. I’m confident in the steers that I’m doing and that my equipment is running, but I can’t control what other people do and how people show up tomorrow. And so again, I have to continue to put my best foot forward. It’s four runs, which is what’s cool about the Olympics, and consistency is the key.”
Meyers Taylor pushed a record setting 5.61 seconds to start her campaign for the medals, and tied Canadian Christine de Bruin for third with a downtime of 1:05.12. Meyers Taylor matched her start time in the second heat, and again clocked the third fastest time of 1:05.30 in the second heat.
“Not too bad for a 37-year old mom, you know,” Meyers Taylor said about her start times. “ I’m the oldest driver in the competition and the only one coming off a pregnancy, so I’m very excited about the starts. Starts give me a chance, so I knew I needed that. I knew with the lack of runs and I knew with some of my struggles with monobob I needed the start. So I’m going to go back and try to go even faster tomorrow.”
De Bruin posted the second fastest time to break the tie, and she moved ahead of Meyers Taylor into second position. Germany’s Laura Nolte was in second place after the first run, but had only the seventh fastest time of the second heat. She dropped back into third with a cumulative time of 2:10.32, and Meyers Taylor is on her heels in fourth with a total time of 2:10.42.
“I know I can drive this track better so I’m really just going to go in tomorrow and try and have some fun,” Meyers Taylor said. “I drive the best when I’m having fun and with everything that’s been going on I have not enjoyed myself. So tomorrow I’ll just let it roll and see what happens.”
History was made today with the first-ever women’s monobob competition in the Olympic Winter Games program. Humphries and Meyers Taylor fought for a second medal opportunity for the women, and they hoped it would be in a four-man sled. Both drivers competed against the men in four-man sleds to show what was possible, and Meyers Taylor was the first woman to win a medal in an international four-man competition. But most other nations in the world do not have the same resources or depth, so officials felt that monobob was a better fit. In 2018, it was announced that it would be added to the program in Beijing.
“I think four-woman was the better option just because it gives the brakewomen more choice, more options, but at the end of the day, it’s all about women having those choices and if the younger generation wants monobob, then I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they have the opportunity,” Meyers Taylor said.
It wasn’t easy getting to this point. Humphries and Meyers Taylor have been through a series of challenges over the last four years, and racing today wasn’t a guarantee for either of them.
Humphries has been racing for Team USA since 2019 after a lengthy and ongoing dispute with Canadian bobsled officials over claims of verbal and mental abuse. While she’s claimed hard-earned hardware for the red, white and blue, obtaining U.S. citizenship didn’t come easily. She entered this season not knowing if she would be eligible to compete in the 2022 Olympics. She needed citizenship from the United States, or else she’d be “stateless,” and unable to race. With just one month to spare, she got it.
Just when she thought she’d won the battle and she could finally focus on racing in the Olympics, she tested positive for COVID-19. She recovered, and the worst that happened was a delayed flight to Beijing.
Meyers Taylor’s status was unknown until eight days ago. The World Cup title holder in both women’s monobob and two-woman bobsled tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Beijing. It was out of her control, and no one knew if she would test negative in time to race in monobob. While she missed paid training, Meyers Taylor was released the night before official training.
“It’s been a really rough road to get here, but now I feel like my head is finally starting to clear,” Meyers Taylor said after her final official training run yesterday. “It’s been pretty foggy and bogged down with stress and everything with everything that’s going on so I finally feel I’m in a position where I’m starting to get back to myself, which is what I need in order to drive successfully.”
It seems like all would be well once she got the all clear– but the physical and emotional toll was evident. Meyers Taylor’s husband, Nic, and her father and son, Nico, had also tested positive and weren’t yet out of quarantine. They are all together again, at least partly. Her family remains under close contact protocol, but she does get to see them occasionally. Before quarantine, the longest Meyers Taylor had been away from Nico was nine hours.
“That’s the hardest part out of all of this,” Meyers Taylor said. “I had this whole intention of coming here and doing this with my family and I’ve done everything with my family, every race, it’s all been with my family. And so now to have this shock all of a sudden at the Olympics, that’s something that I didn’t train for. We planned for all kinds of worst case scenarios at the Games, but that was something that was pretty new.”
Watch Humphries and Meyers Taylor vie for the medals in tomorrow’s final two heats at 9:30 a.m. local time/8:30 p.m. EST. The finale is scheduled to air immediately following the Superbowl on NBC. For the first time, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games can be viewed Live on NBC and streamed on Peacock Premium. The games can be viewed with a cable subscription on NBC, USA Network, and CNBC. NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports app will live stream a Winter Olympics record 2,100+ hours of live event competition during the Beijing Olympics. For more information on how to view, please go to NBCOlympics.com.
For media inquiries, please contact USABS Marketing and Communications Director Amanda Bird at email@example.com.
Results (heats 1 & 2)
1. Kaillie Humphries (USA) 2:09.10 (1:04.44, 1:04.66)
2. Christine de Bruin (CAN) 2:10.14 (1:05.12, 1:05.02)
3. Laura Nolte (GER) 2:10.32 (1:04.74, 1:05.58)
4. Elana Meyers Taylor (USA) 2:10.42 (1:05.12, 1:05.30)
About USA Bobsled/Skeleton
USA Bobsled/Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com. Individuals interested in becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete can visit www.usabobsledskeleton.com.