A Canadian posted by far the fastest results in the women’s first official bobsled training heats this morning, with Calgary pilot Kaillie Humphries reaching a blistering 146.9 km/h and finishing the track with a time of 53.24.
Speeds like that left some of the women at the Whistler Sliding Centre concerned. American pilot Shauna Rohbock—a Turino silver medalist and the second fastest in training today after Humphries, posting a speed in one heat of 145 km/h—called the Whistler Sliding Centre track “stupid fast” in an interview with the Associated Press after a supplementary training opportunity Friday. “I think they went a little overboard on this track.”
The venue, where 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in an accident last Friday, is increasingly seen as troubled. Yesterday, two Swiss bobsled pilots withdrew from this weekend’s two-man competition, in one case for preemptive safety reasons, in another due to injuries sustained in a crash on the track.
Yet the speeds didn’t seem to trouble Rohbock’s brakeman, Elana Meyers, who Twittered last night: “We just went 145 km/hr…that’s fast!!! WOO HOO! Day 1 of training complete!”
Canadian pilot Helen Upperton, also from Calgary, came fourth in both training heats this morning, trailing teammate Humphries, Rohbock and Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis.
Upperton and Humphries have something of a history together. Humphries had been more or less designated Upperton’s brakeman in Turino until just days before competition, when she was dropped in favour of Heather Moyse (seen above, right, with Humphries at the Bob World Cup in Germany).
Sometimes, athletic rivalries aren’t limited to the international arena.