Profile: Kaillie Humphries & Heather Moyse

(c) February 25, 2010 – The Canadian Press / Jeff McIntosh: Kailie Humphries & Heather Moyse with their gold medals at their Vancouver 2010 victory ceremony in Whistler, BC.

Canadian bobsledders lead 1-2 podium finish at Vancouver 2010.

NAMES: Kaillie Humphries & Heather Moyse
HOMETOWNS: Calgary, Alberta | Summerside, Prince Edward Island
BIRTH DATES: (Kaillie) September 4, 1985 | (Heather) July 23, 1978
GOLD MEDAL (2010) – women’s bobsleigh

The nature of bobsleigh is that the sled, weighing hundreds of pounds, is the driving force that gets its rider to the bottom of the twisting, icy slope. It’s is why it’s so common to see riders paired up with different partners throughout a season, as only the driver is attached to each sled. Teams will try different brakemen, looking for the perfect complement to a pilot who can reach speeds of up to 145 miles per hour in the span of 53 seconds, without losing control.

Heather Moyse, who is also the star player on Canada’s national women’s rugby team and has been a World Cup all-star, suffered a serious shoulder injury while playing rugby that benched her for much of the 2008-09 bobsleigh season. Moyse had previously achieved plenty of World Cup success with Helen Upperton, who was then piloting the Canada-1 sled. Moyse, with Upperton, finished fourth at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, just .05 seconds off the podium. They walked away with the Start Record for the Torino Olympic track at 5.16 seconds, and for Moyse that close finish was what brought her back to bobsleigh after her shoulder injury. It wasn’t until after her first Olympic appearance in her rookie season that Moyse completed her Masters from the University of Toronto. She previously held a degree from the University of Waterloo, where she was a star sprinter and even played varsity soccer for one year. While still in high school, the 5’10” Moyse also played basketball.

Calgary-born Kaillie Humphries began competing in bobsleigh in 2004 as Kaillie Simundson, and met her husband, Dan Humphries, on the World Cup circuit – the Welsh former Army officer competed for Great Britain in the two-man at the 2006 Olympics. After marrying, he was granted Canadian citizenship and competed with the legendary Canadian bobsleigh racer Pierre Lueders at the 2010 Olympic Games. Humphries would have been Upperton’s brakeman in Torino, but she injured her ankle tripping on a garden hose – the spot, of course, went to Moyse. It was something that both girls have admitted drove a serious wedge in their friendship, and even caused Humphries to consider defecting to the British team, but she signed up for bobsleigh driving school in Canada instead. “It took us a good year to get over it,” Humphries told NBC, adding, “But now we’re the best teammates possible.”

While Moyse shone on the world stage with Upperton, Humphries rehabbed her ankle, then participated in the mixed-bobsleigh-skeleton team event at the 2008 World Championships, winning silver with Jenni Hucul as her brakeman. Starting 2008-09, Moyse and Upperton won gold at a World Cup event in Ingls, Austria, but after that race she was paired with Humphries, winning a silver medal at a World Cup stop in Whistler, and placing 5th at the 2009 World Championships.

(c) February 25, 2010 – Al Bello/Getty Images: Members of the Canadian coaching squad cheer on Humphries & Moyse as they slide to the finish as the Olympic champions.

The following season – their Olympic year – Humphries and Moyse pulled away. They set track records at every World Cup stop that year, and finished second overall in the standings behind Germany-1’s Sandra Kiriasis, a former World and the defending Olympic Champion. Going into the Olympic Games, Great Britain-1 racers Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke were the defending World Champions, and much was also expected of USA-1’s Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka and USA-2’s Erin Pac and Elena Meyers (Rohbock and Meyers were defending World silver medalists). Both American teams had set Start and Track Records on the Whistler slide. Humphries and Moyse entered the Olympic meet with Canada-2’s Helen Upperton and Shelley Ann Brown – before working with Upperton in 2009, Brown spent time as Humphries’ brakeman.

The Olympic meet occurred over two days – the first two runs took place on February 24th. Right away, Humphries and Moyse claimed their place at the top, setting Start and Track records on their first run. Pac and Meyers in USA-2 were in second, followed by Germany-2’s Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch. Great Britain-1’s Minichiello and Cooke did not start the last run on Day 2 (February 25), ending their slim hopes for a medal after a slow third run. After three runs, Humphries and Moyse were well ahead of the pack – the gold was theirs to lose, following two lightning fast middle runs, where on their third run they were only team to finish the track in under 53 seconds. But Martini and Logsch, entering the third run in fourth place, reminded everyone how easily medals can slip away. The pair were disqualified after a spectacular crash on turn 13 that ejected brakeman Logsch from the sled. USA-1’s Rohbock and Rzepka finished a disappointing sixth, and the legendary Kiriasis finished fourth.

By the fourth run, Canada was poised for two medals, with Humphries and Moyse in first and Upperton and Brown in third. Upperton led the Canada-2 sled to the fastest time for the round, while USA-2’s Pac and Meyers had a bad final run – for the first time in women’s sliding sports at the Winter Olympics, Canada had finished first and second on the podium, .85 seconds apart. Ironically, the last time Canada went 1-2, Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain won gold and silver in men’s skeleton (another sliding sport) at the 2006 Games in Torino. The North American medal sweep at the 2010 Winter Olympics was also the first time at a women’s bobsleigh Olympic or World Championships that Germany was kept from the podium.

Post-Games, Moyse suffered an ankle injury in the final game of the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, where Canada finished sixth. The ankle injury limited her sprinting power, vital to a push-start in bobsleigh, so in October 2011 she announced she was retiring from bobsleigh and switching to track cycling. Acknowledging it takes time to learn a new sport and become competitive, Moyse might be back in team colours for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Humphries continues to pilot the Canada-1 sled, and won her first-ever World Championship gold with new brakeman Jennifer Ciochetti in 2012.

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