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Kaillie Humphries

December 11, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight

Kaillie Humphries Wins Lou Marsh Award!

Congratulations to Bobsled Champion Kaillie Humphries on being named the 2014 Lou Marsh Award (Canada’s Athlete of the Year) winner today! From The National Post:

On a mild evening in the mountains above Sochi, Cheryl Simundson stood in a bog, in the driving rain, wondering what happened to her flag. It was a Canadian flag, one she had hung on a railing near the bobsleigh track, leaving it behind only for a moment to get a better view of the scoreboard after her daughter had gone thundering past.Someone, it seemed, had stolen her flag.

“I’ve never, ever had that happen to my flag,” she said, incredulous. “Ever. Never. Ever. Never has that happened for me.”

The rain continued to pour. Her husband, Ray, was still coughing, battling a case of strep throat, an ear infection and sinusitis. Their daughter, the defending Olympic champion in two-woman bobsleigh, had been only second best in her first two runs.

They returned to the sliding centre the next day, sought shelter under the roof by the start line, and watched as their daughter roared back from the edge, wrenching the gold medal from the United States. Simundson’s lost maple leaf was replaced by flags that would be draped over and around her daughter for the rest of the Olympics.

Kaillie Humphries and brakewoman Heather Moyse were named flag-bearers for the Closing Ceremony in Sochi. And, on Thursday, Humphries earned another honour, winning the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete.

The 29-year-old from Calgary becomes the first bobsledder to win the trophy, given each year to the athlete — male or female, professional or amateur — awarded by a panel of journalists. Voting was held on Wednesday, with the results announced on Thursday.

Tennis stars Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic were among the other finalists, as was Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty and lacrosse phenom Johnny Powless. A vote was held on the final shortlist, with panelists ranking their choices one-through-five.

There were passionate arguments for several finalists, but in the end, Humphries won on the strength of a calendar year in which she not only dominated her sport, but also helped to change its rules. Along with Elana Meyers Taylor, her main rival in Sochi, Humphries has won the right to compete drive against men in the four-man bobsled.

Meyers Taylor actually held the edge following their first runs in Sochi, with rain falling hard around the track. Humphries and Moyse were 0.23 seconds behind heading into the final two runs, which the bobsled equivalent to an eternity.

Adding to the pressure was the fact Humphries was expected not just to win a medal, but to win the whole competition. She never looked at the scoreboard, leaving that to Moyse, and she focused on those final two runs.

So she started chipping away. Humphries and Moyse clawed back some time on the third run, but were still 0.11 seconds behind heading into that final attempt. They ran hard and fast and clean; the Americans stumbled.

Humphries won her second gold medal. And together with Moyse, they found their way into the grandstand. They found their families.

“I’ve got more nerves and I’m more shaky now than I was during the whole entire thing,” Cheryl said that night. “And when she jumped over the fence and hugged me. She was shaking and crying and she’s like, ‘Mom, I love you, I don’t know what to do.’”

Her mother said that night in February: “Enjoy it … enjoy it.”

By Sean Fitz-Gerald/The National Post/December, 2014