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U.S. women bobsledders collect more bling at Koenigssee

Humphries, Meyers Taylor finish 1-2 in women’s monobob race

From left, Americans Elana Meyers Taylor (silver) and Kaillie Humphries (gold) pose on the podium with Germany’s Stephanie Schneider (bronze) on Saturday, Jan. 23 after the women’s monobob race at the World Cup in Koenigssee, Germany. Meyers Taylor is holding her 11-month-old son Nico. This is the second gold for Humphries in her second monobob World Cup race. (Provided photo — IBSF)

KOENIGSSEE, Germany — Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) claimed gold and silver medals, respectively, Saturday, Jan. 23 in the women’s monobob World Cup in Koenigssee. This is only the second monobob World Cup race that the American team has entered, and the second consecutive win for Humphries.

“We have the toughest, most competitive women’s team in the world,” said USA Bobsled Head Coach Mike Kohn. “Their athleticism and determination are truly apparent in this unpredictable and demanding season. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

A day later, Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman (Arlington, Texas) secured the bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled World Cup.

In the monobob race, Humphries pushed off the block in 5.59 seconds, seventh best of the heat, and pulled away from the rest of the field at every turn. She crossed the finish line three-hundredths of a second ahead with a downtime of 53.36 seconds. Despite the flawless run, Humphries felt like there was more to gain.

“I could have done the chicane better,” Humphries said to her teammates at the finish before climbing out of the sled.

“I don’t focus on times, I just focus on what I can do better,” Humphries said. “If I make a mistake, it opens the door for other competitors. I work on what I can control, and make sure my starts and my runs are as good as they can be. Even if I know I have the lead, I’m going to be focused on what I can do better.”

Humphries clocked a start time of 5.61 seconds in heat two, and distanced herself even further from the field with the fastest run of 53.39 seconds. The three-time Olympic medalist finished 0.62 seconds ahead, winning with a combined time of 1:46.75.

“Nothing is guaranteed, not in life, in sport, in anything,” Humphries said. “Monobob added a new challenge. There are a lot of steps between now and the 2022 Olympics. Every single time I get into a sled I try to understand more. I like the challenge, and it makes me hungrier for more. I want to continue to get better.”

Meyers Taylor was the second fastest competitor off the block with a 5.45-second push time in the opening heat, and she drove herself into medal position with the third fastest downtime of 53.69 seconds. The three-time Olympic medalist matched her first run push time in the second heat, and she piloted her sled up one position with the second-fastest run of 53.68 seconds. Meyers Taylor claimed silver with a total time of 1:47.37 to place both U.S. sleds on the podium.

“Monobob doesn’t drive like a two-man or four-man sled, so it takes some getting used to,” Meyers Taylor said. “Kaillie put on a clinic on how to drive these sleds. It’s cool to be her teammate, because I can study and talk through her lines with her. It’s really great to have two American sleds in the medals.”

“Elana is schooling me in the push,” Humphries said. “I’m going to spend a lot of time on my physical training this summer, and get back to understanding how to push as a brakeman again. It’s great having a teammate like Elana that can push me to get better.”

Germany’s Stephanie Schneider was in second place after the first heat, but she dropped back to Meyers Taylor in the second heat. Schneider claimed the bronze medal in 1:47.50.

Two-woman race

With a bronze medal in the two-woman race, Meyers Taylor said she was happy with the outcome.

“I think a part of getting back is getting consistent again,” she said. “Sometimes things are going to happen, but it was a good race overall. I want to clean up some things, but it’s getting there.”

Sunday was Meyers Taylor’s third race back since the 2018-2019 season. She was on maternity leave last season, and is traveling this season with her husband and son.

Meyers Taylor and Hoffman started their campaign for the medals with the fastest start time of 5.21 seconds. Meyers Taylor navigated the BMW-branded sled to the finish in 51 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second behind first heat leaders Stephanie Schneider and Tamara Seer from Germany.

Meyers Taylor and Hoffman were even faster off the block in the second heat with a push time of 5.20 seconds. Meyers Taylor took the reins and struggled through the S-combination corners of the track. The U.S. team crossed the finish line in 51.17 seconds and waited to see how their combined time of 1:42.17 would hold up.

Kim Kalicki and Ann-Christin Strack from Germany threw down the fastest run of the day to take over the lead with a total time of 1:41.71. Schneider and Seer fell back into silver medal position with a cumulative time of 1:41.96.

Defending women’s bobsled world champions Humphries and Gibbs slid a combined time of 1:42.30 for sixth place.