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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Canada's Kaillie Humphries started her World Cup season in the best way possible.
Elana Meyers Taylor could not say the same.
Humphries teamed with Cynthia Appiah to win the season debut race at the Whistler Sliding Center on Saturday, finishing their two runs in 1 minute, 46.53 seconds and posting the fastest time in both heats. Christina Hengster and Sanne Monique Dekker of Austria were second in 1:46.77, and Jamie Greubel Poser and Lauren Gibbs of the U.S. took the bronze in in 1:46.86.
Humphries and Appiah broke the track's start record, with a 5.09-second time in their first heat.
"Regardless of a win or a loss, I think it is important to start the season strong and I'm really happy with how we performed today with two good starts and two good runs from a driving perspective," Humphries said. "It is all about performance. That is what Canadians expect from us."
Gruebel Poser got a medal for the seventh time in her last nine World Cup starts.
"Even though I dropped back in the second run, I had another really great run and I can't be mad about that," Greubel Poser said. "We gave everything we had, including two great pushes."
Humphries would have likely trailed her close friend and top rival, Meyers Taylor — the longtime American star and two-time Olympic medalist who built a 0.36-second lead past the midway point of her first heat. But Meyers Taylor lost control of the sled and crashed, ending her day but escaping serious injury.
"Kehri and I are OK," Meyers Taylor said on her Facebook page. "Banged up but OK."
Meyers Taylor added that she would see her fans in Lake Placid, where the tour is headed for its next stop in two weeks — a sign that she doesn't intend to miss any time.
Even with Meyers Taylor out, the Americans had two sleds in the top seven Saturday. Brittany Reinbolt teamed with first-year push athlete Briauna Jones to finish seventh.
"I tried to have fun and enjoy the experience, especially since it was Briauna's first World Cup," Reinbolt said. "It's the first time I really like I had the chance to be competitive on this circuit."
Humphries broke the track start record in her first attempt Saturday, topping a mark that had stood for six years.
She nearly lost the record about five minutes later.
Meyers Taylor and Jones got off the start ramp in 5.06 seconds — 0.03 seconds better than Humphries — but their run ended well before the intended finish. Meyers Taylor was in position to take a huge lead when she crashed hard during that first heat, getting disqualified even though the sled crossed the line because Jones fell out along the way.
Their sled was damaged, and the record never went into the books. Because they were DQ'ed, the start record reverted to Humphries' mark.
Alexander Kasjanov of Russia was the winning pilot later Saturday in the four-man race that wrapped up the first World Cup weekend of the season, finishing in 1:42.51.
Switzerland's Rico Peter got his team across the line in the silver-medal spot, finishing in 1:42.71. Germany's Johannes Lochner drove his sled to third in 1:42.94 — just edging former world and Olympic champion Steven Holcomb of the U.S., whose team was fourth and missed the podium by a mere 0.03 seconds.
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