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Monobob, the do-it-yourself sliding sport in which a bobsledder pushes and pilots her own sled, made its Olympic debut on Sunday with two Americans vying for a medal.
Kaillie Humphries will enter Monday’s final heats with a substantial lead of over a second after finishing her first two heats in a combined time of 2 minutes 9.10 seconds.
With a victory, Humphries would become the first American woman to win a gold medal for two countries at the Winter Games. (John-Henry Krueger, a short-track speed skater, achieved the feat last week while competing for his new country, Hungary.)
Humphries became a US citizen in December after a long and acrimonious split with Bobsleigh Canada, a program she has represented at three previous Olympic Games. She was part of the winning women’s bobsleigh teams at the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Games.
On Sunday, Humphries set a fast pace on the possible path to another gold medal. She set a track record at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, China, with a first run of 1:04.44.
“I’m literally pretending today doesn’t exist and I have a new race tomorrow,” Humphries said. “Easier said than done, I can promise you, but in the end, I practiced doing it, and I won and lost in that position.”
Christine de Bruin of Canada trailed Humphries by 1.04 seconds after the first two runs, followed by Laura Nolte of Germany.
Elana Meyers Taylor, the other American in the event, was fourth, 1.32 seconds behind Humphries.
“Not too bad for a 37-year-old mom, you know,” Meyers Taylor said. “I’m the oldest driver in the competition and the only one to come out of pregnancy, so I’m very excited about the starts.”
Monoboba women-only event where a single luge pushes and drives her bobsled down an icy track, makes its Olympic debut this weekend.
This is what the monobob is →
For Meyers Taylor, who won two silver and a bronze in the women’s two-man event at three previous Olympics, just getting to compete was an adventure.
She was chosen as one of the flag bearers for the United States for the opening ceremony, but tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after arriving in Beijing.
She self-isolated for nearly a week before testing negative twice, keeping her hopes of competing in the monobob and two-man event alive.
The International Olympic Committee has announced the Olympic inclusion of monobob in 2018 for women only. The men do not have a monobob, but they compete in the four-man event, which has no competition for women.
Humphries and Meyers Taylor are among those advocating for a four-woman bobsled event, which would allow more women to participate in the sport at a high level.
“It’s getting better very slowly,” Humphries said in a December interview. “No turtle, very slow.”