Humphries takes pioneering role on the bobsled


AFP

CALGARY, Canada — Kaillie Humphries, set to make history on Saturday as one of the first women to pilot a four-man bobsleigh World Cup team, doesn’t have time to worry about political correctness. ��I still call it four-man, not four-person,�� said Humphries, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the two-woman bobsleigh who lobbied long and hard for the chance to challenge in the four-person event that until now has been limited to men. ��It is going to be a big challenge,�� the 29-year-old Canadian told AFP in a telephone interview.

��Driving a four-man sledge is something I need to get used to, there will be some learning, some adjusting from my part and from the part of my crew. ��Two of them are totally new to the sport. A four-man bob is longer, the feeling is different. At the start I have to run less but I have to be quicker and more explosive. ��It’s different because I am responsible for more lives, too.�� The International Bobsleigh Federation (FIBT) approved mixed-gender teams in ��four-man�� racing in September for this season’s World Cup. Humphries and American Elana Meyers Taylor, her longtime rival on the women’s circuit, qualified to compete earlier this month, meeting the federation’s 5-3-2 rule �X competing in five races held on a minimum of three tracks within two seasons. Now they’ll try to make a mark in a sport that has recruited its drivers from such macho realms as American football or ice hockey, or the ranks of athletics sprint stars who have the muscle and the mindset to launch a sleigh at more than 120 km/h. It’s an astonishing breakthrough for the women competitors considering women’s bobsleigh was only added to the Olympic program in Salt Lake City in 2002. ��There is a lot of work to do,�� Humphries said, acknowledging she faces a learning curve as steep as any bobsleigh run. ��I will be happy if we can be in the top 12 at every race. The goal is ultimately to win, but I am aware it will take time.�� Just getting a crew was ��definitely a challenge,�� she said. Not because she was a woman, but because she’ll be up against the best drivers in the sport. Her crew of Dan Dale, Joey Nemet and D.J. McClelland are all World Cup newcomers. ��I have been so far very well accepted, they have been very supportive, very open,�� she said, but added: ��I know that I have to prove myself to other crews and trainers.�� She won’t have to prove anything to her longtime rival Meyers Taylor, silver medalist behind the Canadian in Sochi who got the better of her longtime rival in a World Cup women’s race at Lake Placid last weekend. Both women will get a baptism of fire on Saturday, when they are slated to compete in both women’s and mixed events. Humphries, hopes eventually to see a four-woman event added to the Olympic program. ��I am happy to compete against men, but not every woman can do it,�� she said.