Humphries and George win bronze in women's bobsled at Pyeongchang Games
Canada driver Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George race down the track in women's bobsled finals during 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018 8:57AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2018 1:35PM EST
PYEONCGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of -- Kaillie Humphries left the last two Olympics with gold medals around her neck.
The Canadian bobsled great says departing the Pyeongchang Games sporting a bronze will feel just as good.
Humphries won her third Olympic medal Wednesday, clocking a four-run time of three minutes 22.89 seconds with brakeman Phylicia George to finish third in the women's race.
The two-time defending gold medallist from 2010 and 2014, Humphries sat a disappointing fifth following Tuesday's first two heats only to fight her way on to the podium 24 hours later.
"Each experience of the Games is completely different," she said. "This medal is extremely special. This one's probably the most personal one for me, the most emotional.
"I know how hard Phylicia and I have really had to work and how hard our team has had to work to get to this position, and we earned the bronze tonight."
Germany's Mariama Jamanka, who had never won an international race of any significance, and Lisa Buckwitz took gold in 3:22.45. Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs were second in 3:22.52.
Edmonton's Alysia Rissling and Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I. -- the brakeman for Humphries at the last two Olympics -- finished sixth in 3:23.63.
Moyse, 39, retired after 2014 only to rejoin the national team program in September but the plan seemed to always be for her to push for one of Canada's younger pilots in South Korea.
"I'm thrilled," said Moyse, clutching a beer while chatting with reporters. "I have zero regrets for this year at all."
Christine de Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., and Melissa Lotholz of Barrhead, Alta., were seventh in 3:23.89.
Humphries was 0.04 seconds off the podium and 0.34 seconds back of first following Tuesday's heats at an Olympic Sliding Centre that has produced a number of incredibly close results.
The 32-year-old from Calgary switched the runners on her sled for Wednesday, a change that boosted her speed over the final two runs.
"Equipment always plays a factor," Humphries said. "It's one-third of what it takes to win a race. The start, the driving, and the equipment all have to be there and all have to be top notch in order to win. How much of an impact? Who knows? And we'll never know, and that doesn't matter.
"At the end of the day we're here, we're extremely proud of this medal tonight and we're excited to share it with Canada."
Humphries and George, a 30-year-old two-time Summer Olympian from Markham, Ont., slid to a time of 50.52 seconds in the Wednesday's third heat. That put the Canadians into a podium position, 0.34 seconds behind second and 0.37 seconds adrift of first.
They then posted a time of 50.77 seconds on their final trip down the track to briefly take over top spot before falling back to third after Meyers Taylor and Jamanka completed their final runs.
"Pressure was on, we knew we had to perform," said Humphries. "Our pushes over these four heats were absolutely fantastic."
George, who competed in track in field at the last two Summer Games, got a Twitter message from Humphries after the Rio Olympics asking her to come out and try bobsled.
Now she has a bronze medal for her trophy case.
"It's been so exciting," George said. "She's been an amazing mentor to me, I've just learned so much from her. To be able to share this with her is amazing.
"To stand and win a medal for Canada, it's an amazing accomplishment."
Moyse retired in 2014, forcing Humphries to find a new brakeman ahead of the 2018 Olympics.
She split time this season between Lotholz and George, who will now turn her focus to preparing for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
"I'm going to be back (training) in maybe two weeks," she said. "I've got a little weight to lose, but I'm really excited. I'm the strongest, most powerful that I've ever been.
"I think that it's going to translate really well into track."
Wednesday marked the second bobsled medal for Canada in Pyeongchang after Justin Kripps and Alex Kopacz raced Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis to a stunning gold-medal tie in Monday's two-man event.
The four-man race goes Saturday and Sunday.
Humphries led from start to finish eight years ago at the Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., and battled back after sitting second through two heats to overtake Meyers Taylor at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
The ultra-competitive pilot said the fact she didn't top the podium a third time won't diminish her experience at the 2018 Games.
"I am 100 per cent OK with standing here," said Humphries, who plans to race in Beijing in 2022. "We worked our butts off.
"They say it's about the journey, and that's 100 per cent what it's about. Phylicia came out six months ago, and to be in this position, and to know that we are able to work hard, put our heads down and walk away with an Olympic medal for Canada is absolutely fantastic."