LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries and brakewoman Jennifer Ciochetti are the team to beat at the midway point of the women's competition at the bobsled world championships.
The Canadians lead with a time of one minute 54.17 seconds after two heats over the treacherous 20-turn track at Mount Van Hoevenberg. That was 0.41 seconds ahead of Germany's Sandra Kiriasis and Petra Lammert, who were just 0.09 ahead of Americans Elana Meyers and Katie Eberling.
Humphries set a blistering pace on her second run, finishing in 57.07 seconds on an overcast day with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. That was just off the track record of 56.90 set by Kiriasis in 2010 and put her solidly in the driver's seat for the gold.
"It's still about consistency. Anything can happen in this race," said Humphries. "Tomorrow is a whole new day. We'll see. As long as we keep doing what we're doing, everything will fall into place."
The final two runs are scheduled for Saturday night.
World Cup champion Cathleen Martini and brakewoman Janine Tischer of Germany were in fourth, just ahead of Calgary's Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown of Pickering, Ont.
Humphries won the last two races of the World Cup season at Whistler and in her hometown of Calgary. Ciochetti is working on becoming a sled pilot, but the 27-year-old from Edmonton returned to her former job as brakewoman for last weekend's World Cup finale.
Humphries, who won at Whistler with Calgary's Emily Baadsvik, teamed with Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., to win Olympic gold at the Vancouver Games. Moyse is taking the year off.
A bunch of minor mistakes on her second run cost Meyers valuable time in the race for the gold. She trailed Humphries by 0.12 after the first heat.
"I was sloppy -- late here, early there, a little flop here," said Meyers. "That really killed my huge advantage at the start. I'm hoping to clean up the top of the track and get some more velocity."
The first two heats of the men's two-man competition are Saturday morning.