The Beijing Winter Olympics are just around the corner. And one of the events where Canada often makes a big impression is the women's two-woman bobsleigh. In fact, over the last three Olympics, the country has two gold, one silver, and one bronze in the event. Not bad!
But three of those medals were won by pilot Kaillie Humphries, who is now racing for the United States. The other—the silver at Vancouver 2010—was won by pilot Helen Upperton, who retired shortly after those games. In other words, for Canada to keep up its medal-winning ways, it needs someone else to step up in a big way.
And right now, the name at the top of that list is Christine de Bruin.
Ranked world no. 2
Bobsleigh is a sport where a group of athletes ride a sleek, aerodynamic sled down a long, winding, icy downhill track. It is fast, tricky, and requires incredibly quick, calm decisions from the team's pilot, who is the one who steers the sled. The other athlete is responsible for pushing the sled at the start to build up momentum, then pulling the brake at the end of the race (she is known as the brakewoman).
With speeds reaching 130 km/h (80 mph), even the smallest mistakes can lead to a poor race. Teams need to be at their very best to succeed! That is what de Bruin—and her teammate Kristin Bujkowski—have been lately.
De Bruin just completed a stellar weekend at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia. On Sunday, she and Bujkowski captured the bronze medal in the 2-woman bobsleigh (it has placed them in the number two spot in the world rankings for the event).
And the day before that, she did even better. In the solo bobsleigh—or monobob—event, she won gold!
Monobob to arrive in Beijing
This last event is actually a big deal for female Canadian bobsledders. The monobob is a bobsleigh race where only one person rides in the sled. The pilot does it all. It will be a brand new event at the Winter Olympics this year.
Right now, the top two spots in the monobob world rankings are held by a pair of Canadians. Christine de Bruin is number one, while second is Cynthia Appiah. Appiah has a long history in the Canadian program—in fact, she was the brakewoman for a few races with Humphries. Now she is an extremely successful solo pilot herself!
De Bruin and Appiah both represent big medal hopes for Canada in Beijing. But it will be anything but easy.
American Elena Meyers Taylor and German Laura Nolte are big threats in both two-woman bobsleigh and monobob. (Meyers Taylor won gold in the two-woman event in Latvia and is the world's number one ranked pilot.) And another big threat in both events? New American Kaillie Humphries who is eager to prove that she can get back to her Olympic gold-winning ways, this time against Canada.
It's all going to add up to some high drama in Beijing when these athletes face off!