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Canada rallies past US for women's bobsled gold

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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The team from Canada CAN-1, piloted Kaillie Humphries with brakeman Heather Moyse, wave to fans after their gold medal finish during the women's bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
The team from Canada CAN-1, piloted Kaillie Humphries with brakeman Heather Moyse, wave to fans after their gold medal finish during the women's bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

— Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse had a simple approach heading into the final two runs of the women's bobsledding competition at the Sochi Olympics

Going as fast as they could, they figured, would be enough.

Oh, how right they were. Again.

The Canadians won their second straight gold medal in women's Olympic bobsled, rallying in the final two heats Wednesday night to beat the American duo of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams in USA-1 by 0.10 seconds. Humphries and Moyse finished a full second ahead of Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans in USA-2, the bronze winners.

Humphries was the World Cup champion this season, edging Meyers by one point.

For the Americans, there was plenty of history to savor. It was the first time two U.S. women's bobsleds medaled at the Olympics. Meyers became the first American woman with two bobsled medals. And Williams — whose entire bobsled career spans about six months — is now the fifth Olympian to medal in different events at the Summer and Winter Games.

She has a gold medal from the 4x100-meter relay in the London Olympics in 2012, as well as a silver from the 100 meters at the Athens Games eight years earlier.

And Williams hardly seemed dissatisfied with silver in Sochi. When it was over, she wrapped herself in an American flag, jumped up and down and she and Meyers — a bronze medalist as a push athlete four years ago — smiled broadly.

Entering the second night of competition, Humphries and Moyse said the margin between first and second was irrelevant. The way they saw it, knowing time differences wouldn't allow themselves to will the sled to move any more quickly.

So they just focused on themselves.

The Americans gave them some help.

Meyers was first off the hill in the third run and a couple big mistakes — a bang into the wall here, a skid in a straightaway there — cost her time and opened the door.

Humphries and Moyse responded. The U.S. lead had been 0.23 seconds; after Canada-1's third run, the margin was more than cut in half to 0.11 seconds.

All that was a wrap entering the final heat was the bronze, with Greubel and Evans 0.76 seconds away from second place entering Run 4, but with a cushion of 0.64 seconds between themselves and fourth.

Put simply, they needed only to stay upright to win bronze. When they did that, the first to reach them to jump up and down and start the congratulatory party were Lolo Jones and Jazmine Fenlator, the USA-3 team, part of the "wolfpack" the women's team had described themselves as repeatedly in recent weeks.

With that, the race was on for gold.

Humphries threw down a sizzling 57.92 in the fourth run to put the pressure on USA-1. And moments later, Meyers had another early skid in her final trip down the track, essentially deciding the gold.

For Jones, it was not the Olympics she dreamed about. Her third trip to the games — the first two as a hurdler, in Beijing and London — also ended without a medal, as she and Fenlator finished 11th in USA-3.

Jones clipped a hurdle to lose what would have been gold in Beijing and fought through injury to finish fourth in London, finding both results difficult to accept. At these games, going home without a medal was hardly her fault, as the push times for USA-3 — which was not expected to be in medal contention — were hardly the problem.

As a few fans chanted their names, Fenlator and Jones both gave big waves, accompanied by wide smiles when it was over.

That alone seemed like victory for Jones, whose first two Olympic experiences ended in heartbreak.

And besides, Jones' legacy on this Olympic team may be the fact that she was one of the biggest reasons why Williams came to bobsledding. She helped sell Williams on the idea last June while both were track and field athletes. Williams has since retired from sprinting, while Jones has designs on competing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. By helping Williams find her way to the winter world she made the U.S. squad for Sochi better.

 
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