In the last Olympics, Kelly Humphries was Canadian and the women’s bobsledder had only one chance to win a medal.
Some things have changed in the last four years.
Humphries now has US citizenship, and she will compete in two events at the Beijing Games in February – not one – with this set to become the first Olympics where the monoboob is included in the medal program. And the three-time medalist is looking for more.
“The only focus is on February,” Humphries said.
With good reason. Olympic gold is what drives him, and most bobsledders, like nothing else. The longtime star of the Canadian bobsled team began slipping for the Americans three seasons ago, necessitating a lengthy legal and administrative battle to obtain a U.S. passport in time to compete in these Olympics. Got it, only a few weeks left.
Now he has a chance to win a double medal. The women’s own customary two-person event, plus the monoboob – just one driver in the sled, no brakeman – is a great opportunity for some of the world’s best pilots to enhance their Olympic legacy. Humphries is the current world champion and fellow American driver Elana Meyers Taylor has been arguably the best monobober in the world this season.
But here’s more proof that it’s all about seeding: Meyers Taylor — a three-time Olympic medalist, one of those to come as a push athlete — skipped a monoboob race a few weeks ago, compared to the short-lived Profit was thinking more about long-term goals.
“I really need to preserve my body, and I know I have to take it easy sometimes,” Meyers Taylor said.
It will be the usual suspects who will enter the Beijing Games as a medal contender. America may get four of the six medals awarded in the women’s race.
And on the men’s side, it’s all about Germany – which means it’s all about Francesco Friedrich.
The double-gold winner of the Pyeongchang Games – he shared the two-man title there with Canada’s Justin Cripps – is the heavy favorite to win double gold again at these Olympics. No one has won either of the two men’s events at the back-to-back Olympics; Germany’s Andre Lang came closest, winning four-man gold in 2002 and 2006 and two-man gold in 2006 and 2010.
His dominance has been unmatched in the history of the sport: seven consecutive World Championships in two-man, four consecutive World Championships in four-man, and he has won an absurd 82% of his international races since the Pyeongchang Games. A three-week training stint in China this fall has shown Frederick what he needs to do there to be successful in February, and his confidence is high.
“We’re feeling great,” Frederick said. “We spent a good three weeks there. We know the track. We just have to learn the Olympic Village. But I think it’s in good shape for the Olympics.”
looking for six
The U.S. bobsled team is trying to win a medal for the sixth consecutive Olympics, and clearly, it would be an absolute disaster if the Americans didn’t get at least one. A medal in six consecutive Games would tie the longest such streak in US Olympic bobsled history; It also happened in a straight six from 1928 to 1956. Switzerland holds the record for medal streaks in bobsled, having won 11 consecutive Olympics from 1968 to 2006.
mind the Gap
Britain has only five Olympic bobsled medals and has not had an on-track medal ceremony since 1998; The four-man medal won in 2014 was awarded after the British were promoted to bronze following the disqualification of the Russian sled in a doping scandal. But Brad Hall — the bobsled brad, he goes on social media — has been a contender almost every week in the race for the World Cup this season, and he looks like a legal challenger to Beijing in both two and four.
The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation had sanctioned the race – not the World Cup, but the actual race in real conditions – this fall when the Sliders had their long training stint at the Beijing track. Friedrich won both the two- and four-man races, while Germany’s Laura Nolte was the winner in the women’s race and another German, Mariama Zamanka, won the monobob competition. Jamanka was the women’s gold medalist at the Pyeongchang Games.
The track at Yanqing Sliding Center is long, which means there is plenty of time for drivers to make mistakes. It was taking about a minute to get down the track during training weeks in the fall; Many other tracks around the world are closer to 45 seconds.
China has a relatively young program, but has seen some success on the women’s side with Ying Qing who could be a successful candidate in these games. The Chinese will have far more runs down the track than anyone else, which is always the case in the Olympics but this time could seriously help the hosts. And some of their sled designs use the same technology with which the Chinese make rockets.
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