KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - At first it was a little bit strange.
Fireworks started exploding in the cold sky over the mountain cluster of venues as the Canadian women’s bobsled team got ready to race down the track for the fourth and final time. A gold medal hung in the balance as bright colours hung in the air.
Was it a sign? The Americans looked flawless to that point, leading through three heats and leaving the favoured team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse looking relatively sluggish. Comebacks in bobsled – especially Olympic bobsled – are quite rare.
Then Moyse started to shove and Humphries started to drive and in a moment it looked like those fireworks could be for them.
The Canadians saved their best for last, flying down the track in a breathless, near-impeccable run to overtake the Americans and win their second straight Olympic gold medal. They had literally a tenth of a second to spare, as the U.S. team of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams nearly won despite a rocky run.
“I wouldn’t call it a comeback,” Humphries said in her always-even tone. “It was more about being consistent.”
The true comeback happened before this year, as Moyse returned from an assortment injuries that not only threatened their partnership, but threatened her career. She had to return to the sport and then win back her spot, as Humphries had moved on with another partner. The pair of queens that won hearts and a championship on home soil in Vancouver was now a pair of ones.
“The last four years were not a sure thing at all,” she said. “At all.”
Moyse’s audition for a part she held in 2010 went well enough, and by the end of the night on Wednesday it was a wonder why there was any doubt at all. The Americans had a sterling BMW-made sled and the best rookie pusher in the world in Williams, but it was Humphries and her unassailable cool that won the day and the race.
It’s hard to believe she nearly defected to the United Kingdom only eight years ago in an effort to compete. Now nobody can imagine Canadian women’s bobsled without her. And nobody can imagine her without Moyse, whose lightness perfectly balances Humphries’ gravitas. The duo won Canada’s first gold in these Games since Day 5.
After answering dozens of questions in the mixed zone, each with the calm that she shows in just about every situation, Humphries got a surprising one: “What’s your max squat?” She has somewhat of a reputation nationally for her strength in the weight room, so she smiled.
“I’d say about 160 kilos …” she said.
Moyse cut in: “She goes all the way down.”
“Bum to the ground,” Humphries added.
Whether it’s races or sentences, Humphries and Moyse each know how to finish what the other starts.