Defending Olympic bobsleigh champs Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse didn't need much time to get back to their winning ways together, winning the World Cup season-opener in Calgary on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Reunited after nearly three years apart, Humphries and Moyse were more than a half-second ahead of the rest of the women's field on Saturday to take the victory in a two-run, combined time of one minute, 52.77 seconds. American sleds finished second and third, with Elana Meyers and Aja Evans clocking in 0.56 seconds back for the runner-up spot and Jamie Greubel and Katie Eberling placing third.
"When Heather came back this summer, everything just felt so comfortable right away and I have nothing to worry about," said Humphries, who extended her podium streak to 14 races, a run that includes 11 wins at the controls of the Canada 1 sled. "We had two awesome pushes today that surpassed my expectations and it is great to start the season with a win."
Moyse, who has competed in track cycling and rugby for Canada during her hiatus from bobsleigh, had hip surgery one year ago but has quickly regained her form. She and Humphries set a new start record on their final run Saturday.
"It is awesome to be back, and it just felt like an old shoe today," said Moyse.
Jenny Ciochetti and Chelsea Valois, Humphries's brakeman for all of last season, finished ninth.
Canada also put a sled on the podium in the men's two-man race at Calgary, with Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden earning a third-place finish on Friday, Nov. 29. The newly formed Canada 2 sled arrived at the finish two-tenths behind American winners Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton, and just .04 seconds back of Swiss silver medallists Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann.
"We are satisfied, but we wanted more tonight," said Spring, who earned a top-three finish in two-man competition for the first time, but was sitting in second place after one run. "It is a World Cup podium and you have to be happy with that, especially when it is at home."
Lyndon Rush and Lascelles Brown placed eighth in the Canada 1 sled, while Justin Kripps drove the other Canadian entry to 13th spot with partner Bryan Barnett.
Spring and Lumsden were also part of the best Canadian sled in four-man competition, finishing fourth on Saturday with Cody Sorenson and Ben Coakwell. Holcomb drove his U.S. team to the top of the podium.
Rush, Brown, Neville Wright and David Bissett finished sixth, while Kripps, Tim Randall, Graeme Rinholm and James McNaughton placed ninth in the Canada 3 sled.
Sliders lock up Olympic berths
Eric Neilson and Sarah Reid have secured their spots at the 2014 Olympics after both earned the top-six finishes they needed to qualify for the Games in their World Cup skeleton openers on Friday in Calgary.
Neilson matched a career-best World Cup finish by placing fifth in the men's race, threatening the podium on Friday as he did much of last season.
"This is a huge relief to get this off my back and I'm extremely happy," said the Kelowna native of securing his spot in Sochi.
Reigning Canadian champion Dave Greszczyszyn finished sixth in his first-ever World Cup start, while John Fairbairn finished ninth. World champ Martins Dukurs of Latvia picked up the victory.
Reid, meanwhile, was the top Canadian in the women's race by finishing sixth and also completed her Olympic qualification. Robynne Thompson, racing at the World Cup level for the first time, finished eighth and fellow Canadian Cassie Hawrysh placed 10th.
Reid had originally finished seventh in the women's event, but moved up one spot to sixth after provisional winner Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S. was disqualified over a nickel-sized piece of tape on her sled. The disqualification came after a protest from the British team, and resulted in a win for the U.K.'s Elizabeth Yarnold.
Le Guellec just shy of podium
Quebec's Jean Philippe Le Guellec's fourth-place finish in the men's 20-kilometre individual competition highlighted Canadian results at the season's first World Cup biathlon event.
Le Guellec missed just one shot in four trips to the range at Oestersund, Sweden, on Nov. 28 and was just 11 seconds off the podium. Nathan Smith of Calgary finished 16th. Rosanna Crawford led the Canadian women with a 48th-place result, while former Sea to Sky resident Megan Heinicke was 77th.
In the following day's sprint races, Manitoba's Megan Imrie guaranteed herself a spot at the Sochi Olympics by placing 22nd. Scott Perras had the top men's sprint result, placing 34th.
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