Home track advantage
Humphries finished second behind U.S. pilot Shauna Rohbock at last season's Whistler World Cup, which served as the test event on the Olympic track. "The Whistler track is awesome," Humphries says. "I love it and it is extremely fast." Members of the Canadian team will get significantly more training time there than athletes from other countries, which Humphries calls a "huge advantage. The speeds that you're reaching - it's split second decisions that can make or break a run ... On a track that's that long and that fast, every single run you can get down and the better feelings you can have going down it, if you can do it in your sleep even better, perfect. You want to know how to enter and exit every single corner in every single situation."
Learning to drive
Humphries, then a push athlete, traveled to Torino but did not compete in the Games. "Being the spare was the worst feeling ever," she says. After that experience, she decided to become a driver. "I became a driver pretty much solely on that one specific moment," she explains. "It was at the end of the Games. I was devastated, I was destroyed, I was at the lowest I could possibly be and I could never be in that position again ... I didn't have control at the Games and I hated that. I couldn't stand it." She made her World Cup debut as a driver in 2007.
One of Humphries's top competitors comes from within the Canadian team. In the lead-up to the Torino Games, she and Helen Upperton often raced in the same sled; Humphries, who then competed under her maiden name - Simundson - was Upperton's brakeman. The last time she pushed for Upperton was the 2005 Olympic test event, where the duo finished fourth. "Yes, there is a rivalry," she says of their relationship now. "But I think it's a healthy rivalry and I think it really pushes both of us to be better because of it." Heather Moyse, who teamed with Humphries to win World Cup silver at Whistler last season, was the brakeman in Upperton's 2006 Olympic sled. Having two push athletes has made for strong starts. "Our pushes have been amazing," Humphries says of sliding with Moyse. "That's a huge help - takes the pressure off."
Kaillie married Dan Humphries in April 2007. A member of Great Britain's Olympic bobsled team in 2006, he is now a brakeman for Canada. The two met while Dan was training on the track in Calgary, Kaillie's hometown. She briefly considered competing for Great Britain, but they settled on Canada. "I'm very close with my family, and it would've devastated me to be living that far away," Kaillie explains. "He's got family in Canada, and sporting-wise it was a lot better for him to come here as well." As for sharing a sport with her husband? "It's got its ups, and it's definitely got its downs, too," she says. "But I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Humphries' Olympic dream began while watching Mark Tewksbury win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games. "He's known my family for a bit so watching somebody that I knew achieve greatness and the look on his face - I wanted that. And the next year I started skiing, so it was like, okay, this is what I'm going to do if I want that feeling and I committed everything to achieving that feeling and it's still in there deep inside." Humphries ultimately found she "just wasn't good enough" in skiing and started bobsled at age 17. "I knew I had to switch and do something else," she explains. "And I knew I had to pick something where girls had bigger legs because I've always had bigger legs than most people. So it was either speed skating or bobsleigh. And I went to one of the talent ID camps they hold in Calgary and did a series of tests ... And I've just been around since."
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.