ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Heather Moyse is pushing a bobsled faster than ever following hip surgery - so much so that the Canadian ‘Road Runner’ could leave her rivals seeking help from the Acme Corporation in Sochi.
One half of Canada’s first Olympic women’s bobsleigh champions - the other being driver Kaillie Humphries - Moyse, 35, has also represented her country in rugby and track cycling.
“If you saw me sprint without a bobsled, you’d be like, oh my god, roadrunner legs... not pretty whatsoever,” she said of comparisons to the Looney Tunes cartoon character who is forever leaving pursuer Wile. E Coyote exhausted and exasperated in a trail of vapor.
Moyse’s explosive push starts helped propel the duo to gold four years ago - but it was not until she went under the surgeon’s knife to repair a torn labrum in 2012 that she found out she was something of an oddity.
“My hip sockets... for around 98 percent of people they open facing forward. Mine, they discovered, rotate backwards,” she told Reuters.
”Everything I’ve accomplished up until my surgery was in spite of being blocked in the front which is why I have that really weird pushing style.
“But elite athletes become elite compensators. I‘m pushing faster than I’ve ever pushed before - part of that is down to the surgery.”
A formidable rugby player who scores tries for fun, Moyse suffered a shattered ankle while playing in the 2010 Rugby World Cup.
As part of her rehab she took up track cycling before again having to step away from sports to rehabilitate from hip surgery.
Having been out of a bobsled for over two years, she could not ignore her bobsleigh federation when they came calling. Rugby wanted her back as well.
“The (bobsleigh) federation contacted me and said they didn’t have a lot of depth in the program, wondering if I would consider coming back. At the same time rugby approached me and asked if I would come back,” she explained.
“I said maybe I’ll try to do both - I‘m better when I have a really tough challenge. The challenge of coming back after taking so much time off is really what does it for me.”
After feeling her way back into a bobsleigh, Humphries and Moyse were reunited for this World Cup season - and the results were impressive.
They won three out of eight races and piped American Elana Meyers to the overall title by one point.
“Things are different but we’ve definitely both grown. It doesn’t change the chemistry on the ice at all. It’s really fun because we are both so competitive when it comes to pushing ourselves to push out own limits,” Moyse said.
For Moyse the thrill of bobsleigh comes in the first 50 meters when she is in her element. Then it’s over to Humphries to steer the fastest course down the icy chute.
“The going down in a bobsleigh doesn’t give me a buzz at all really. The push starts - that’s my job and I love that adrenaline. It’s a 50-metre sprint. Bam,” she said.
The pair will not entertain talk of “defending” their title when the competition starts on Tuesday.
“Take away all these (Olympic) rings and it’s just a Toboggan race. We’re racing against people we’ve been racing against all year,” said Moyse.
”People talk to us about how exciting it was to win in Vancouver. We were just excited we won because it was a race. Not because it was the Olympics, not because it was the Olympics at home.
“If you keep putting these ‘against’ and ‘defending champions’ then you’re competing more out of a fear of losing something instead of in a hunt to get something.”
Editing by Mitch Phillips