WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) - There's a notion at these Olympics that Canada's "Own The Podium" program might have been too much of a burden for the host nation's athletes.
Maybe for some.
Not for Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse.
Showing off a home-ice advantage, Humphries drove Canada-1 into the lead after Tuesday's opening two runs of the women's bobsled competition at the super-fast Whistler Sliding Center, setting track records both times down. Still, they only lead USA-2, with Erin Pac driving and Elana Meyers pushing, by 0.13 seconds entering Wednesday's deciding heats.
Germany-2, driven by Cathleen Martini, is third.
Defending Olympic gold medalist Sandra Kiriasis of Germany is fifth, one spot ahead pilots Shauna Rohbock in USA-1 and Bree Schaaf in USA-3. Rohbock and Schaaf are nearly a full second off Canada-1's lead.
Schaaf and brakeman Emily Azevedo leaped in the air when they saw they were tied with Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka, then celebrated even more vociferously one sled later when Germany-3 piloted by Claudia Schramm fell behind them during the second run.
From there, the gap is copious - 0.89 seconds from first to sixth.
Canada's Helen Upperton is fourth, still firmly in the medal chase, while Kirasis, Rohbock and Schaaf all have some work to do on Wednesday.
"Not good," Rohbock said. "I've been struggling in (curves) 4 and 5 all week, and I just couldn't put it together. Nobody has a clue."
Well, not nobody.
Humphries and Pac sure seem to have an idea of what's happening out there.
It was the first competition on the Whistler track since workers shaved away a bit of ice entering Curve 11 - a subtle, yet important, move made to help give sleds the chance of finding the right line entering the most critical part of the course through Curve 13. Four-man drivers who trained Tuesday before the women's race said they found it much easier to navigate, though still extremely difficult.
Women's drivers agreed.
And as such, this Olympic race isn't over.
"With 11, 12 and 13, everything's wide open," Rohbock said. "Look at what happened to Lyndon Rush."
He's the Canadian medal hopeful who crashed during the two-man competition - admittedly, before the ice was modified.
There wasn't a single crash Tuesday, though plenty of scrapes with big trouble.
Manami Hino of Japan did everything but crash in her second run, going sideways near the track's roof in one corner, yet escaped unscathed. Australia's Astrid Loch-Wilkinson nearly lost control as well, and even Kiriasis - long considered the best driver in the world - flirted with danger on the very first run of the competition, skidding a bit sideways and losing some time.
Somehow, Pac was perfect - on a track where, just a few days ago, she said she didn't feel completely safe.
Americans - who decided to take Monday night off and not take advantage of the final training session on the slightly modified course - had some issues getting down the track as well. U.S. coach Sepp Plozza smacked his hands on either side of his head out of nervousness at times when Rohbock and Schaaf were making their initial runs down the ice.
The day off might have done Pac a world of good.
Struggling with a sore hamstring suffered in training at the Olympic track on Saturday, Pac's status for the games seemed to be a bit of question, especially after Meyers used Twitter to tell fans to "pray for Erin's health."
That balky leg sure looked fine Tuesday. Good enough, anyway.
Pac crossed the line in 53.05 seconds in her second run, throwing her arms in the air in unison with U.S. coach Bill Tavares while Meyers showed off her red, white and blue mouthpiece for the cameras.
Women's bobsled came into the Olympic program in 2002, and the U.S. has been one of the elite programs in the world since, with Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers winning gold at Salt Lake, followed by Rohbock and Valerie Fleming taking a silver at Torino in 2006.
Pac has the Americans thinking podium once again. So are the Canadians.
Humphries and Moyse have shown off the best starts in the world all season, and with a few snowflakes dotting the ice at the start of the Olympic race, they were the best off the line again - a time of 5.12 seconds in the first run, then 5.11 seconds in the second run.
From there, Humphries took over, the experience gleaned from 150-plus runs on the Olympic surface paying off in every turn.
Once Humphries got to the finish, she and Pac hugged.
On Wednesday, they'll battle, Olympic gold in the balance.
Highlights from Steve Holcomb's momentous first two runs on Feb. 26, Day 15 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. The Utah native's "Night Train" crew chats about their solid lead ahead of Canada's Lyndon Rush and Germany's Andre Lange.
John Papa and Duncan Kennedy discuss Steve Holcomb's lead halfway through the four-man bobsled competition and their predictions for Saturday's final two heats. Lewis Johnson also caught up with USA-2's John Napier, who was one of six sleds that experienced the wrath of the 50-50 curve on Friday, Day 15 of the 2010 Winter Games.