Today Altis athletes Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries will make history as they become the first females to compete in a World Cup bobsled race against men in Calgary, Canada.
Traditionally, only men have been allowed to compete in four-man bobsled events; but – following FIBT approval to make four-man bobsled gender-neutral in September – two-time Olympic gold medalist Kaillie finished 3rd at the Canadian four-man selection races to qualify to compete on the World Cup. Likewise, Olympic silver and bronze medalist Elana finished 3rd in the USA four-man selection races. Both then competed in Park City, Utah, Calgary, Canada and La Plagne, France in development circuit races in order to finalize World Cup qualification. With that hectic schedule completed, both are now on the verge of an historic weekend for female sports. To make the challenge even greater, the four-man event begins less than an hour after the completion of the women’s competition!
“I’m excited about the opportunity to race twice this weekend, even though it’s going to be a challenge with two races back to back – but hey, maybe this will just show even more how resilient and tough women bobsledders are” Elana said. “Right now my main focus is putting together solid pushes and consistent runs. My crew and I worked very hard to get here and our focus is on competing as well as we can. Of course it’s a historic moment and I’m proud to be a part of it, but my focus right now is on the competition.”
Elana and Kaillie train alongside one another at Altis Headquarters in Phoenix. Training together brings out the best in each of them, as Kaillie explains: “Every athlete is going to have a rival, which is part of why we decided to train together. She knows, as well as I do, we’re really the only two people who can push each other to continuously get better. It was not an easy decision, and it’s not one most people would make, training with your No. 1 competitor, but we have become really good friends. Both her and I are very similar in mannerisms and our abilities to put business on one side and personal stuff on the other. I respect that about her and I hope she does with me, and I think that’s how we’re able to be competitors and rivals and still be friends.”
The historical implications of this race are not lost on USA Bobsled CEO Darrin Steele – who played a major role in lobbying the FIBT to move forward with this decision:
“It’s not everyday you witness history being made in a sport as old as bobsled, but we will be doing just that on Saturday in the four-man,” said Steele. “This is really important for women’s bobsled because it shatters all the myths about why women don’t have their own four-woman discipline. After this weekend the only reason that will remain will be a lack of female competitors outside of North America. It’s a call to action that Kaillie and Elana are sending loud and clear.”