Kaillie Humphries might have won the battle, but it was Elana Meyers Taylor who won the war.
In the final women’s monobob race of the 2021-22 World Cup season, Humphries crossed the finish line in St. Moritz first with a combined time of 2:22.27. But Meyers Taylor’s second-place result – just 0.04 seconds back – was enough to claim the overall season title in women’s monobob. (A video highlight of Humphries and Meyers Taylor’s final runs is embedded above.)
The 2022 Beijing Winter Games will mark the Olympic debut of women’s monobob, a bobsled event that – as the name implies – features just one athlete.
Meyers Taylor and Humphries – both longtime advocates of a four-woman bobsled event – weren’t particularly happy when women’s monobob was instead added to the Olympic program for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
While Meyers Taylor and Humphries – as pilots – now have two Olympic medal opportunities like the men, the same is not true for their brakewomen, who help prepare both the two-woman and monobob sleds for competition day.
“It wasn’t what me and Kaillie intended when we started this journey,” Meyers Taylor said at the Team USA media summit in October. “We intended to try and get more women in, to give more medal opportunities to the female brakemen, too.”
ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Despite the name, monobob is not a one-woman event
Women’s monobob was appealing to the International Olympic Committee because the event arguably allows for more competitive balance between nations. Monobob sleds are far less expensive – and with all sleds produced by the same manufacturer – there is less room for wealthy bobsled nations to pay for technical bells and whistles.
“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell said when monobob was added. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”
In some ways, this competitive balance is already on display. During the 2021-22 season, a total of 45 women competed in the women’s monobob World Series, including athletes representing Brazil, Poland, Nigeria, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
And yet, it was still Meyers Taylor and Humphries – the two most decorated women in Olympic bobsled history with three medals each – who finished 1-2 in the monobob season standings.
“I wasn’t focused on the overall title at all, I was just trying to work every week on getting better and better,” Meyers Taylor told USA Bobsled/Skeleton after Saturday’s race. “I know I have a much bigger battle ahead. Beijing is unlike any track on tour, and it’s going to be a tough challenge. It’s not going to be easy to walk away with the victory.”
MORE BOBSLED NEWS: Meyers Taylor and Humphries lead U.S. women’s bobsled team for Beijing
Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC