As tough as time on the road can be, home can be even more challenging with mounting expectations and demands.
Bobsleigh pilot Kaillie Humphries admitted as much, but she defended Whistler Sliding Centre at the last two major events — the IBSF World Cup stop here in 2012 and, of course, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The pressure may have started to rise higher almost immediately as American Jamie Greubel Poser and brakeman Cherrelle Garrett dropped Humphries' six-year-old track record of 52.85 seconds in the first run of the day.
But Humphries, along with brakeman Melissa Lotholz, proved herself up to the task with a 52.71 in her first attempt. The duo bettered it the next time out, scoring a 52.66 for a combined time of one minute, 45.37 seconds (1:45.37).
Greubel Poser was 0.15 seconds back while the Austrian team of Christina Hengster and Sanne Monique Dekker placed third, 0.27 seconds behind.
Humphries said she knew even before Greubel Poser bombed down the track that the records would be prone, so when it happened, she knew she'd find placed to trim time to put her name right back in the record books.
"We knew it was going to be fast. It was going to be quick, and we knew that from skeleton this morning. They had broken some records," she said. "To see (Jamie) do it just gave me a bit more confidence to know I'm going to take it from her, but at the end of the day, it definitely plays in your mind.
"'OK. Here we go.'"
Humphries anticipated more of a cushion heading into the second run, but a slight miscommunication at the finish line caused Lotholz to drop the brakes a moment early and cost the duo.
"I had my hands ready to go and as soon as I hear her say 'B' I pulled them because we were supposed to be across the finish line," Lotholz said. "She was like 'I called brakes a little early' and I was like 'OK, yep.'"
"It was a lot closer than I wanted it to be. In all fairness, I was picturing a way bigger lead in my head," Humphries laughed. "But this is the sport — Jamie came out, Hengster came out, Elfje (Willemsen of Austria) came out first run and had great drives. They really applied the pressure, which is really cool to see in our sport.
"We're still lacking numbers, so hopefully we get a lot more women to come out."
While Greubel Poser was disappointed to not have taken the win, she acknowledged it was going to be tough to find a way to knock off the Humphries juggernaut on home soil.
"I'm happy that we were so close because she has so much more experience here. She actually was an Olympic champion on this track before I was a driver," she said. "To be able to come back with a couple more years of experience and be that close to her when she has so much more experience is really amazing."
Greubel Poser appreciated being part of the track's history, if only for a moment, and feels her performance was something from which she can build.
"I really wanted to have a track record this season, so to be able to come here and do it on my first run in Whistler is a pretty awesome feeling," she said. "I was able to put a few great runs together. I'm really happy. I definitely wanted to win, but it's really hard to beat Kaillie's experience here."
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