PARK CITY, Utah (AP) – Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada finished sixth and Olympic silver medalist Elana Meyers Taylor of the U.S. was seventh Saturday, becoming the first women to drive against men in an international four-man bobsled competition.
Nick Cunningham of the U.S. drove to the win in the North American Cup race, one spot ahead of 2010 Olympic champion and fellow American Steven Holcomb. Meyers Taylor’s two-run time was about a second behind Cunningham.
Still, the historical significance of the day was not lost on the two-time Olympic medalist.
“It’s hard to realize the impact this has on the history of the sport right now,” Meyers Taylor said. “It’s hard to take it all in, because at the end of the day I’m a competitor and I always want to perform better. I’m a little disappointed with today’s finish, but at the same time I know that the importance of this moment will hit me later. It’s pretty cool.”
Bobsled’s international governing body ruled this year that four-man sliding will be considered gender neutral going forward, meaning women will have a chance to compete in four-man against males. It’s likely that Humphries and Meyers Taylor – generally considered the two strongest female pilots in the sport – will be the lone women on the World Cup circuit this winter.
Although both are qualified for their respective national teams, they still need to satisfy experience requirements before getting cleared to race on the World Cup circuit. To do so before the season opens next month at Lake Placid, New York, Humphries and Meyers Taylor are planning to race in Canada and France to reach the required number of lower-tier races.
Humphries celebrated the accomplishment Saturday by showing up at the 2002 Olympic track with a shirt that bore the words “Boys Club.”
“It’s pretty awesome to share this moment with Kaillie and to be doing this together,” Meyers Taylor said. “We’re able to relate as we go through this whole new experience for us. She’s my friend and someone I can confide in, and we’ve been working together to progress this sport in any way we can.”
Meyers Taylor also competed in the women’s events at the North American Cup stop in Park City, teaming with brakeman Cherrelle Garrett to top American Jamie Greubel Poser and Michelle Howe in the first race with Humphries and Melissa Lotholz, taking third.
In the second women’s race, Greubel Poser and Lauren Gibbs won convincingly.