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Humphries and Kripps guide Canada to gold medals at bobsled World Cup


ALTENBERG, Germany — Bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Justin Kripps guided Canada to a golden sweep in record fashion Saturday at the Altenberg World Cup.

Humphries and Phylicia George set a track record en route to victory in the women's race while Kripps and Alex Kopacz set two start records before finishing first in the men's competition.

"This is just an absolutely huge day for our program and especially great to do it in Altenberg," said Bobsleigh Canada high-performance director Chris Le Bihan. "This is one of the hardest gold medals to get on the World Cup. To show up in the Lion's Den here in Germany and be able to perform and win is the real deal."

It was Humphries' third victory of the World Cup season and her first with George in the sled. They opened with a record time of 56.22 seconds and finished the two runs in 1:52.62.    

"It feels really good and we are happy with the performance," Humphries said. "Phylicia and I worked really hard during the Christmas break. To be able to come out and perform, in only Phylicia's second race, is great.

"We made big gains today with good pushes and I'm happy with how I drove. We are happy to walk away with the track record and we know there is lots of room to grow."

It was the 22nd career victory for Humphries and her 47th World Cup podium. The Calgary pilot, a two-time Olympic champion, leads the overall season standings.

American rivals Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans were second in 1:53.31 and Germany's Anna Koehler and Annika Drazek took bronze in 1:53.32.

"These challenging tracks are driving tracks that require you to be more focused or you are going to suffer the consequences," said Humphries. "I love the challenge these tracks create when most of the girls are freaking out.

"I thrive on the scenario of having to stay focused on all the intricate details right from the start where you can't just fumble your way down."

George, from Toronto, earned her first career podium. The two-time Olympic hurdler joined the national bobsled team last year and the 30-year-old has made steady progress this season.

"Coming into this it was a big challenge for me to step out of my comfort zone," George said. "But I really wanted to be focused and learn how to push a bobsleigh. I have been very patient trying to take everything in and trying to take as many reps as I can. This year I started doing a lot of mental reps as well because I do have limited time behind the sled.

"I know when I do have the chance, I have to bring it 100 per cent, and I'm happy I was able to do that. There is still lots of work to reach the ultimate goal to push at the Olympics, but I feel like I'm contributing more now and I know when a push feels good."

Edmonton's Alysia Rissling and Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., were 10th. World champion pilot Elana Meyers Taylor finished 11th after nearly crashing in her first run and Christine de Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., and Toronto's Cynthia Appiah were 13th.

In the men's race, Kripps, from Summerland, B.C., and Kopacz, from London, Ont., used strong starts to clock the fastest times in both heats for a two-run time of 1:49.21. It was their first World Cup win together as a duo.

"Things are definitely rolling," Kripps said. "To win here in Altenberg on such a tough track is just awesome. Everything is coming together. I have more experience driving now. I went out and got the exact equipment and runners that I wanted, which is making a big difference."

Kripps has reached the podium on four occasions this season in the two-man sled and is the overall World Cup leader. Kripps and Kopacz had a start time of 5.12 seconds in the opening heat and trimmed the record to 5.11 in the second run.

"We showed up and pushed today," Kopacz said. "We reviewed the first push and identified one minor mistake and we nailed it on the second run. When things are going good it feels effortless. It is unbelievable. I'm just over the moon right now.

"We have been training hard and I felt it was a matter of time until things paid off. We are heading in the right direction and it is a lot of fun right now."

The Canadians shared the podium with two German sleds. Francesco Friedrich and Martin Grothkopp slid to silver in 1:49.30 and Nico Walther and Christian Poser won bronze in 1:49.48.

Nick Poloniato of Hamilton, Ont., and Edmonton's Neville Wright were fifth and Calgary's Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden of Burlington, Ont., were 13th.

Competition continues Sunday with the four-man race.


With files from The Associated Press.





The Canadian Press

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