Kaillie Humphries is now, officially, an American.
And just like that, America’s bobsleigh medal hopes at the Beijing Olympics got much stronger.
The reigning world monobob and women’s bobsleigh champion was sworn in as a citizen in San Diego on Thursday, ending her long saga of becoming American and being eligible to compete for the United States at the Olympics.
She doesn’t have her passport yet, but it’s probably just a formality. Without the passport, there was almost no chance that the Canadian-born Humphries would have been allowed to slide at the Olympics.
“Most stressful morning ever, but it’s over,” Humphries told The Associated Press from the plane as she left San Diego.
It was a whirlwind finale to the process. Humphries took part in a World Cup stop in Austria last weekend. She arrived in Altenberg, Germany on Monday for this week’s race, completed the two necessary training races on Tuesday that she needed to qualify for the World Cup races this weekend, and then did the 5 hour drive to Frankfurt for a Wednesday morning flight to San Diego.
Her citizenship reunion was Thursday, and shortly after, she was back on a plane back to Europe.
“I think she’s super horny”, American bobsleigh coach Mike Kohn said in a telephone interview from Germany. “She had a great few years with us. I think she will really shine now. I think the uncertainty held her back a bit. I think it held us all back.
Humphries – two-time Olympic champion and three-time Olympic medalist, all won for Canada – lives in San Diego, holds a green card and is married to a former American bobsledder. Travis Armbruster.
She won the right to slide for the United States in September 2019 after a long and ongoing dispute with Canadian bobsleigh officials over allegations of verbal abuse, mental abuse and harassment. Humphries left the Canadian team, she said, to seek a safer work environment.
Joining the American team was not an easy decision, especially since she knew it was wrong with the guarantee of being able to slide for the Americans at the Beijing Games – but it was a gesture nonetheless. she deemed necessary for her mental and physical safety.
She could have grabbed the chance to slide for another country at these Olympics, but decided a long time ago that if she went to Beijing, she would go as an American.
Which she has been since Thursday.
Her resume is one of the best in the history of the sport: five world championships, 54 World Cup medals – including 27 gold – and she is the only female pilot to win two Olympic gold medals and to win three medals at the Games.
Humphries won the world titles last season for the United States and has been allowed to compete in World Cup and World Championship events for the Americans because different rules apply in those situations. The Canadian federation released her in 2019, paving the way for her to slide to another country. But Olympic rules are stricter and require that in almost all cases an athlete has a passport from the country he represents.
The International Olympic Committee could have waived this rule, but gave no indication that it would do anything on behalf of Humphries.
Now the United States is probably heading to the Olympics with two pilots who can win medals – Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor. The addition of the monobob to the women’s Olympic program means that bobsledders now have two chances for medals at the Games, just like men have had for decades.
The United States has won at least one bobsleigh medal in each of the last five Olympics.
“It’s going to inject some enthusiasm into the team,” Kohn said. “It’ll allow Kaillie to be herself again.” She had this in mind all year. And now such a weight is no longer on his shoulders.
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