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Canadian sliders jockey for position

Practice at Whistler Sliding Centre likely to improve chances of medals in 2010



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Canada 1 is likely to have Pierre Lueders at the helm. He is FIBT ranked sixth for two-man and 13th for four-man.

Kaillie Humphries, also formerly a brakeman, is now working to perfect her piloting with an eye on qualifying for the 2010 Games.

Ranked eighth by the FIBT in the two-athlete sled, the only bobsleigh female sliders compete in, Humphries believes her background as an alpine racer is helping her driving skills.

"You are either going to be fast and good, you can see the line, and you have fast reactions, or you are not going to do it and you are going to crash all over the place," said Humphries of piloting in a sport not unlike Formula 1 racing

"For me with my ski racing background, it has definitely helped to see the line of the track."

Humphries has dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal since she was nine years old and witnessed family friend and Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury win gold at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.

"...When I saw him win gold and saw the look on his face I wanted that same feeling," she said.

Being an alternate at the Torino 2006 Games has only made Humphries more determined than ever to get a spot in a sled for the 2010 Games. Women have only been sliding in the Olympics since the Salt Lake Games in 2002.

"It is a lot of athletes' dreams to be able to compete at a home Games and if I get that opportunity it would be a once in a lifetime chance," she said.

"I am going to use every advantage possible to make sure that I do my very best and we bring home some hardware."

Driving a sled is not like going on a roller coaster, said Humphries.

"I hate roller coasters, which surprises a lot of people," she said.

"It is really, really fast and completely different to skiing or anything that I grew up doing."

She is hopeful that having a second track in Canada will not only raise the profile of the sport but also result in more wins.

Bobsleigh was invented by Englishmen in the late 1860s. The various types of sleds came several years before the first tracks were built in St. Moritz , where the original bobsleds were adapted upsized luge / skeleton sleds designed by the adventurously wealthy to carry passengers. All three types were adapted from boys' delivery sleds and toboggans .