First they smashed the start record, then they broke it again.
Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse also set a new Canadian track record while they were at it, emphatically showing to the rest of the women’s bobsled field that the Olympic champions are back and better than ever.
The Canadian duo won gold in their first World Cup race together in over two years Saturday, blazing down the Canada Olympic Park track in 55.89 seconds to seal the victory and trim nearly a quarter-second off the previous record in the process.
“It just felt comfortable right from Day 1 as soon as Heather came back in the summer,” Humphries said. “Being with her again, everything kind of came back and it just fit.”
Humphries, from Calgary, and Moyse, from Summerside, P.E.I., posted a two-run time of one minute 52.77 seconds to finish over a half-second ahead of Americans Elana Meyers and Aja Evans, who took silver in 1:53.33.
Another American duo, Jamie Greubel and Katie Eberling, took the bronze in 1:53.62.
Earlier, American Steven Holcomb completed a sweep of the men’s races with a victory in the four-man event while Canadian Chris Spring just missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.
Humphries won a world title last year with Chelsea Valois and has reached the podium at 14 straight events. Moyse, who competed in track cycling and rugby while taking a break from bobsled, has returned in top condition after undergoing hip surgery a year ago.
The Canadians didn’t wait long to display the form that led them to gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Moyse, who won a push competition here last weekend, helped power the Canada 1 sled to a start record of 5.48 seconds. Another three-100ths of a second was trimmed off the mark in the second run.
It was the kind of performance Moyse had in mind over the last year as she underwent a gruelling training schedule and rehabilitation to get back to her previous level after surgery.
“Just determination and the sheer red-headed willpower and stubbornness of wanting to prove to myself that I can do it,” Moyse said of her motivation.
The Canadians first started sliding together in 2009. Off and on, they have spent about 2 1/2 years together as a duo.
They beat the previous Canadian track record of 56.06, which was set by Lesa Mayes-Stringer and Jamie Cruickshank in 2005. Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming of the United States set the all-time women’s track mark of 55.44 that same year.
It’s early in the season, but Humphries and Moyse are already the clear favourites to return to the top of the podium in Sochi this February.
“I think we take the pressure off of each other ... we’re doing this because we want to do it, not because we have to do it,” Moyse said. “And I think that when we keep reminding ourselves that we’re here because we want to be here, then it helps to melt away all the outside stresses.
“I think that’s how we did it in Vancouver and hopefully we can just keep doing that this year.”
Edmonton’s Jennifer Ciochetti and Valois, from Zenon Park, Sask., were ninth.
Holcomb, the reigning Olympic gold medallist, guided his team of Curt Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Chris Fogt to a two-run time of 1:48.56. Germany’s Maximilian Arndt and Russia’s Alexander Zubkov finished tied for second place in 1:48.65.
Spring, from Calgary, was fourth in 1:48.67.
“We’re a little off the podium, it’s not what we wanted but there are lots of positives to come out of this,” he said. “We’ll leave here pretty happy and moving on to the next stop, we’ve got some good momentum coming our way.”
Spring was eighth after the first run but had the fastest time in the second run on a cool, overcast afternoon.
Holcomb and Langton won gold in the two-man race on Friday at the season-opening event.
“For us to have this first World Cup under our belts with a new team and new equipment, it’s kind of like having a monkey off our back,” Langton said. “It gives us that confidence moving forward.”
Spring and Jesse Lumsden of Burlington, Ont., won bronze in the two-man race. They were joined by Cody Sorensen of Ottawa and Saskatoon’s Ben Coakwell for the four-man competition.
The other Canadian men’s sleds also cracked the top 10 on Saturday.
Lyndon Rush of Humboldt, Sask., was sixth in 1:48.88 and Justin Kripps of Summerland, B.C., was ninth in 1:49.02.
Rush was joined by David Bissett and Neville Wright, both of Edmonton, and Calgary’s Lascelles Brown. Kripps piloted James MacNaughton of Newmarket, Ont., Toronto’s Tim Randall and Graeme Rinholm of Medicine Hat, Alta.
The World Cup season continues next weekend with an event in Park City, Utah.