KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — They trained together, lived together and laughed together last summer. Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers got tight.
On Tuesday, their friendship gets put on hold and their rivalry heats up.
There’s an Olympic medal on the line.
Just as they did on the World Cup circuit, USA-1 driver Meyers and Canada-1 pilot Humphries will steer their bobsleds down a mountain track, this time inside the five rings.
Humphries edged Meyers of Douglasville, Ga., for the overall championship, winning the World Cup circuit by one point. They’re expected to be at or near the top of the leader board following the first two runs on the Sanki Sliding Center track. The competition concludes Wednesday with two final heats.
USA-2, piloted by Jamie Greubel of Newtown, Pa., with brakeman Aja Evans of Chicago, posted some of the fastest training times and also is likely to contend. Evans trained in Highland Park.
Four years ago, Humphries and brakeman Heather Moyse won gold in Vancouver, thrilling a Canadian crowd. If she can repeat, Humphries and Moyse will become the first team to defend their title since women’s bobsled debuted 12 years ago in Salt Lake.
Moyse came out of retirement and underwent surgery to fix an abnormality in her hip to slide with Humphries again.
“People talked to us about how excited we were to win in Whistler, and we were, but only because it was a race,” she said. “We’re trying to focus on that it’s a race, man. It’s a race and because it’s a race, we want to win. Take all these rings away and if it’s a toboggan race, we still want to win.”
Meyers is teamed with former track star Lauryn Williams of Rochester, Pa., vying to become the second athlete to win gold medals in summer and winter Olympics in different events.
Here are five things to know about the women’s two-man event:
LOLO’S RIDE: Will Lolo Jones finally clear the final hurdle and win an elusive medal? The two-time summer Olympian, riding in USA-3 with pilot Jazmine Fenlator of Wayne, N.J., barely missed winning medals in Beijing and London. She took up this winter sport for one last crack at gold, silver or bronze.
GERMANY’S FALL: Germany was shut out of a medal four years ago and the sliding giant, blanked in men’s two-man at these games, was inconsistent during training sessions. Sandra Kiriasis, who won gold in 2006 and silver in 2002, may be Germany’s best hope. She only had one podium finish on the World Cup circuit this season.
BRAZILIAN BOUNCE: Brazil’s Fabiana Santos and Sally Mayara da Silva were lucky to escape a frightening crash during practice and are expected to compete. Brazil-1 twice went airborne during a practice run Sunday.
DOWN UNDER: Jones isn’t the only former hurdler in the field. Australia’s Jana Pittman won two world championships in the 400-meter hurdles but missed Beijing and London with injuries. Pittman’s only regret is that she didn’t climb into a bobsled sooner.
SWISS MISS?: Switzerland’s Caroline Spahni injured a hamstring during a practice session and only took three of six possible runs. She’s hoping to recover in time to race and wants to improve on a 12th place finish at Vancouver in 2010.
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