Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton releases two-time Olympic champ Humphries

BCS announced the move Saturday night in a letter from its board of directors

FILE - Kaillie Humphries celebrates after a bronze-medal-winning final heat during the women’s two-person bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Her partner was Phylicia George. (Wong Maye-E/AP/The Canadian Press)

Kaillie Humphries is free to pilot bobsleds for the United States.

The two-time Olympic champion and 15-year member of the Canadian team has been granted her release by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.

BCS announced the move Saturday night in a letter from its board of directors.

The relationship between Humphries and BCS had become acrimonious and spilled into civil court.

After asking BCS to let her go Aug. 3, the 34-year-old Calgarian went to court seeking an injunction forcing her release. A Calgary judge denied her request last week.

Humphries then took her case to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, which assists in resolving disputes involving federally-funded sports organizations.

The clock was ticking on Humphries. She required her release by Monday in order to race for the United States this winter.

When contacted by The Canadian Press, Humphries said she was just learning of the decision and needed time to process it.

While BCS was reluctant to part with an athlete it had invested time and money in over the last decade and a half, it ultimately decided to move on.

“This was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly,” BCS said in its statement. “Alongside our stakeholders, we carefully weighed all the relevant factors in this important and complex decision of releasing a medal-potential athlete to one of our top competitors.

“Ultimately, we firmly believe that supporting our current athletes and the positive culture they have developed as a team will foster the environment we need to successfully grow our sport and slide onto the international podium both now, and in the future.”

READ MORE: Humphries declines Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s invitation to return to bob team

Humphries competed in U.S. push trials a week ago as a guest.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for and we cannot wait to work with Kaillie,” said USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn, who was unaware of the Canadian decision until a call seeking comment from The Associated Press. “I’m incredibly excited to have a two-time Olympic champion, multiple-time world champion and one of the best drivers ever in our sport on our team.”

Humphries filed a harassment complaint with BCS over a year ago against a coach and the organization’s management, stating BCS was in violation of its own harassment and discrimination policies.

BCS handed the complaint to an independent third-party company that specializes in investigating such claims.

Hill Advisory Services concluded “in the investigator’s opinion there has been no breach to relevant policy.”

Humphries lives in California and married former U.S. bobsledder Travis Armbruster earlier this month.

Humphries and brakewoman Heather Moyse won gold in 2010 and 2014 to become the first women to repeat as Olympic bobsled champions.

USA Bobsled and Skeleton said it was “honoured” by Humphries’ desire to slide for the Americans — and acknowledged that the decision to release athletes and permit them to slide for other nations is never easy.

“USABS recognizes this was not an easy decision for BCS,” said interim USABS CEO John Rosen. “We believe, however, that ultimately they made the correct decision to honour the desires of this athlete over the interests of the federation. USABS has, on multiple occasions, faced similar decisions in dealing with athletes who have requested release from our program. In each and every case we reached the same conclusion as BCS did with Kaillie.”

READ MORE: Canadian bobsledder Kaillie Humphries files lawsuit in bid to race for U.S.

Humphries’ lawyer, Jeffrey Rath, said the decision is a clear win for his client.

“We are convinced that this release would not have happened had Kaillie not been forced to bring the litigation that she did against Bobsled Canada,” Rath said. “We’re grateful that in the end Bobsled Canada grudgingly granted Kaillie the release.”

The next step for Humphries will be to technically make the U.S. team, which she’ll aim for at the team trials in Park City, Utah, in early November. The Americans will be without three-time Olympic medallist Elana Meyers Taylor — one of Humphries’ closest friends — this season, while she and her husband prepare to become parents for the first time.

The World Cup season opens Nov. 29 in Park City.

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

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