Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada slides to gold, silver

Country's first medals in female Oly bobsled

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WHISTLER, B.C. -- Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse were untouchable and unbeatable Wednesday, smashing track records to win gold while teammates Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown grabbed silver, capturing Canada's first- ever Olympic medals in women's bobsled.

Humphries, the pilot, and Moyse, the brakeman, sailed over the finish line and up the outrun to the deafening cheers of fans, waving Maple Leaf flags and clanging bells.

"It hasn't quite set in yet," Humphries told CTV. "When it does, I'll be bawling."

Moyse, her helmet in her hand, pumped her fist in the air and hugged Humphries before someone handed them a Canadian flag, which they both held up together as the cheers reached a crescendo and reverberated down the misty slopes of Blackcomb Mountain.

Humphries, from Calgary, and Moyse, from Summerside, P.E.I., logged a four-run combined time of three minutes 32.28 seconds to take the top of the podium. They led from wire to wire over four heats, obliterating track and start records as they went.

Upperton, from Calgary, and Brown, from Pickering, Ont., moved up from fifth place to fourth, then third, and finally second.

"So many people own a piece of this medal," Upperton told CTV. "I wish I could break it into like a thousand pieces and give it to all the people that helped us, because no Olympic medallist gets here by themselves and we are very lucky to have so many people helping us."

Erin Pac and brakeman Elana Meyers of the United States were third, 1.12 seconds behind the winners.

The victory was sweet redemption for both Humphries and Upperton.

Humphries was a brakeman in 2006 at the Turin Games, but lost her spot in Upperton's sled and didn't compete. She then promised to take control of her career and became a sled pilot. Upperton, 30, with Moyse on the brakes, missed the podium in Turin by five one-hundredths of a second.

Humphries and Moyse had smashed start records all over Europe on the World Cup circuit season but at the Olympics, it was a tour-de-force performance.

In the first race, they carved through the 16-turn Whistler circuit in 53.19 seconds at a speed of 146.9 kilometres an hour to break the old record of 53.53 seconds held by American Shauna Rohbock. In the next heat, they destroyed their own record by crossing the finish line 18-one-hundredths of a second faster.

In the third they shattered the record again, and the 53-second barrier, with a time of 52.85.

They also smashed start records. Their first start was a record 5.12 seconds, beating the existing 5.17 standard set by Pac. They broke it in the second heat with a 5.11, which they matched in the third.

In the fourth run, they played it safe to stay on track and win it all.

Upperton, 30, and Brown, 29, had a great push time in the first heat but couldn't keep the speed down the course, finishing fifth. They skidded too much, Upperton said later.

But in the heats that followed, Brown, the former track star, kept Upperton in the top three in push times, and Upperton, nicknamed the "H-Bomb", did the rest, steering a line true as an arrow down the course.

Slowly they worked their way through the field. After the second run, they were fourth, nipping on the heels of German Cathleen Martini. After the third they were in third.

In the last heat, Martini and brakeman Romy Logsch, determined to make up time, went roaring through a series of high-speed lefts and rights in the bottom part of the course.

But in the sweeping double apex curve on Turn 11, they began to fish tail, lost control in the hard right curve through 12, hit the wall hard in 13 and went over in a spectacular crash that saw a piece of the sled fly off and Logsch go tumbling out the back of the sled, skidding down the ice track on her back, her limbs out, her body a spinning letter X.

Martini swept around the final curve and up the out-run on her head, crawled out and put her head in her hands.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2010 C5

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