KONIGSSEE, Ger.—Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz won their second-straight silver medal in a nail biter at the Women’s Bobsleigh World Championships in Konigssee, Germany on Saturday.
The Canadian duo of Calgary’s Humphries and Lotholz, of Barrhead, Alta., finished just .03 seconds behind the American sled after four heats held over two days, where they clocked a combined time of 3:24.78.
“To finish three-hundredths out over four runs is a hard pill to swallow. The equipment was good, and I was happy with the drive, but we just got crushed at the start and that is where we lost it,” said Humphries.
Pushed by Kehri Jones, Elana Mayers Taylor slid to her second World Championship title in the American sled, and fifth straight victory on the international circuit, with a time of 3:24.75.
“Silver is not satisfying when the gold was right there, but we have to focus on the positive,” added Humphries. “Melissa has made a lot of improvements this year which has been awesome to see, but together we have a lot of improvements in all elements of the sport to continue working on in order to get back on top. The Olympics is a different beast. We have this summer to learn, and get back to work.”
Sluggish at the start, the Canadians came into the final day just .02 behind the Americans after the first two runs down the 16-corner icy chute that winds its way down the spectacular Bavarian Alps.
“We have been doing better at the start all year so to be seventh and eighth at the start on day one was a tough pill to swallow,” said Melissa Lotholz. “It was a little frustrating the starts didn’t align, but we’ll review things with our support team and pinpoint what else could be improved on the push. We will learn from this.”
While they did manage to shed precious fractions of a second off their start times and closed the gap on the leaders to .01 in the third run, they came up short in their bid to claim the top step of the podium.
“I could have shown up defeated today because of yesterday, or I could show up looking at it as a new day, new race and compete with the heart of a champion to overcome that setback, which was a huge win,” added Lotholz. “It is a process. There have been a lot of wins this year leading up to this. We know it is possible. We are still right there, and we’ll come back stronger. We are so hungry.”
Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans, of the United States, finished in third place at 3:24.98.
It was the fifth career World Championship medal for the 31-year-old Humphries who also has two victories (2013, 2012) at the premiere international bobsleigh dance outside an Olympic year, along with a silver medal last year, and a bronze in 2011, which also came in Konigssee.
The 24-year-old Lotholz also pushed Humphries to a silver medal one year ago, and to the podium four times in the 2016-17 season.
“We did everything to make it happen today, but we came up short. The competition is stiff and the Americans are tough to beat. The eyes will for sure be on Elana in the Olympic year now, and I understand what the pressure is like having gone through that in 2014,” added Humphries.
“I’m okay with that pressure and the stress that comes with that. I want that because that means I’m on top. But we don’t take anything for granted. We will take a step back, learn from this, and come back fighting.”
Humphries’ other two medals this year came with Toronto’s Cynthia Appiah on the brakes where they won the season opener in Whistler, and a bronze in Lake Placid prior to the Christmas break.
Appiah pushed rookie pilot, Alysia Rissling from Edmonton, to an impressive sixth-place finish on Saturday.
Rissling, who was fourth at the season-opener in Whistler, was in fourth place again after the first heat. Dropping to sixth in their second trip down the Konigssee track, Rissling and Appiah held their spot over the final two runs with a total time of 3:25.63.
Edmonton’s Christine de Bruin and Quebec City’s Genevieve Thibault slid to 13th place at 3:26.36.
The World Championships continue on Sunday in Konigssee with the final two runs in the men’s two-man race. Canada has two sleds sitting in the top-five. Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden are in second place, while rookie pilot Nick Poloniato and Neville Wright captured the world’s attention after sliding to fourth place after the opening day.