Phylicia George makes history for Canada in women's bobsled

On the surface, there was little to be deeply interested about in the women’s bobsled at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday. Yes, the event is exciting, because anytime a bobsled carrying two human beings is shot down an icy mountain, well, that’s just plain exciting. But it was just two qualifying heats; no medals were on the line.

History, though, could still be made, and it was the moment that Canadian Phylicia George stepped into the sleigh.

Driver Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George of Canada take a curve in their first heat during the women’s two-man bobsled competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Driver Kaillie Humphries and Phylicia George of Canada take a curve in their first heat during the women’s two-man bobsled competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Fans of the Summer Olympics may recognize George’s name. She made her Olympic debut in London in 2012, finishing sixth in the 100-meter hurdles. Two years later, in Rio de Janeiro, the former UConn Husky qualified once again for the 100-meter hurdles finals, this time finishing eighth with a time of 12.89 seconds.

That November, she decided she’d use that speed on the ice, giving bobsled a try. By December of 2017 she was finishing fourth in her World Cup debut, and less then a month later, alongside pilot Kaillie Humphries, she notched her first win.

On Tuesday in South Korea, George became the first black woman from Canada to compete in both the summer and winter Olympic Games, a rare feat for any athlete, regardless of nationality, gender or color.

Other Canadian females who have done so include Clara Hughes (cycling, speed skating), Sue Holloway (canoeing, cross country skiing), Hayley Wickenheiser (softball, ice hockey), and Georgia Simmering (cycling, alpine skiing).

Arguably the most famous American athlete to do so is Lolo Jones, a hurdler who, like George, took up the bobsled after her career on the track was over.

After their first run, George and Humphries were in fifth, .20 seconds back from Americans Lauren Gibbs and Elana Meyers Taylor.

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