Competitive edge? Gold medal Canadian pilot and silver medal U.S. pilot spent the summer training together
Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — What if Tom Brady and Peyton Manning decided that the best way to be successful was to train together?
They’d share training routines, technique secrets, even swap coaching insights. Heck, they’d even live together so they could really push each other to be their best.
Silly to even consider, right?
Certainly in the NFL — and probably most professional sports leagues — it would be, well, taboo, maybe even traitorous, to team up with the competition.
But to Elana Meyers, the best U.S. bobsled pilot, and Kaillie Humphries, the top Canadian pilot and two-time Olympic champion, it made perfect sense.
“We made this decision after World Championships when we finished one-and-two there, that we knew we had to push each other day in and day out,” Meyers said a day after finishing second to Humphries and her push athlete Heather Moyse in women’s bobsled at Sanki Sliding Center.
The women felt they needed to train together in order to push each other to their best. They shared everything from housing to hard times.
Meyers even singled out Stuart McMillan, performance director and sprints coach for the World Athletic Center in Phoenix, for coaching the women as they prepared for a World Cup season that would see them fight each other for every fraction of a second.
And that’s what the season came down to — one-tenth of a single second.
Humphries captured the bobsled gold medal by one-tenth of a second. Meyers, however, isn’t bitter about Humphries' success, even if she is still tortured by how close she came to gold.
Meyers led through three rounds of competition. It wasn’t until the final run that Humphries and Moyse edged Meyers and her push athlete, Lauryn Williams, by one-tenth of a second. Adding to the sting was the fact that Humphries beat Meyers for the overall World Cup title by a single point.
When she woke up Thursday morning, she was still thinking about her final two runs and where she might have held onto that tenth of a second.
“But then I know I gave it everything I had, I did everything I could,” she said. “My runs weren’t there. I didn’t do what I needed to to win gold. I’m still beating myself up about it, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of the silver medal we won.”
That’s partly because Meyers' first Olympics as a pilot (third full season) has been much more physically and mentally challenging than she expected.
“I was physically beaten up and mentally struggled the whole time,” she said, alluding to the fact that they crashed in training and had to repair their sled and steel their nerves before competition began Tuesday.
“It was a crazy challenge,” she said. “More than I ever thought it was going to be. I had no idea my second Olympics would be this tough.”
It was the work she put in all summer, side-by-side with the woman who snatched the gold from her grasp, that gave her the mettle to push through every challenge, every setback.
She embraces the idea that in order to be the best you have to beat the best in ways most athletes won’t even consider.
“She’s pushed me at every single point,” Meyers said. “I look forward to competing against her again.” And as evidence that there are no hard feelings between the women, Meyers has invited Humphries to her wedding this summer.
“She said she’s coming,” Meyers said with a grin. “And I’m going to make sure she gets a lot of cake before we train at the track.”
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