Wednesday, February 19, 2014

USA Earns the Silver and Bronze in Women's Bobsled

Team USA-1 Sled: Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams
(NBC Sports)

The drama of the women’s bobsledding events over the past two days was intense. On Tuesday night, USA-1’s Lauryn Williams and the top U.S. driver Elana Meyers earned their way into the top position. 

Aja Evans and driver Jamie Greubel pushed the USA-2 sled to third place position. This left  the Canadian bobsled team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, trailing the top American sled by just 0.23 seconds after the first two runs. Despite the deteriorating weather conditions that included rain and a less than desirable track surface, USA 1 and USA 2 sleds dominated in the top three positions. 

Lolo Jones and driver Jazmine Fenlator finished in 11th place after encountering difficulty in their second run. But their experience will become invaluable for the 2018 Winter Olympics games—assuming Jones remains with the sport—a decision she is pondering. 

On Wednesday, USA-1’s Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams led the event after each of the first three heats, but the defending gold medalists of Team Canada delivered a final time of 3 minutes, 50.61 seconds—just 0.10 seconds better than the 3:50.71 time of the United States. The gold medal for Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse is their second straight victory after winning at the 2010 Vancouver Games as well. 

Meyers, a friend and competitor of Humphries observed, "At the end of the day, Kaillie beat me. I have to deal with that," Meyers said. "I have to go back and train even harder. We've been battling back and forth all year. It's been super fun to have that competition. She got the best of me now, but we'll see in four years."

While Lauryn Williams was in contention to become the first person to win gold medals in the Summer and Winter Olympics, she was still part of Olympics history, as only the fifth person to win Winter and Summer Olympics medals in different disciplines. Just the same, she made her focus clear. 

“I didn’t come here to make history,” Williams said. “I came here to help Team USA, and I felt I did the best I could to help Team USA. It wasn’t about history for me.”

Lolo Jones didn’t get her first Olympic medal, however, she was responsible for convincing Williams'—also a track and field athlete--to give bobsledding a try during a conversation in an airport last year. Amazingly, Williams took her first bobsled run last July. 

"She's like a Jesse Owens. I hope she just inspired a country," Jones said. "I hope she's everywhere when I get back to the U.S. I hope she's a household name. I hope people know that her transformation was the most brilliant things I've ever watched."

Jones deflected attention away from herself to focus squarely on celebrating the victory of her teammates today. Jones’ teammate and pilot Jazmine Fenlator expressed her confidence in Jones with the hope that she remains an athlete in bobsledding.

"I told her she can take a break for Rio but I'm going to reel her back in for Pyeongchang," Fenlator said.  

Team USA – 1 pilot Elana Meyers agreed. 

"Lolo has been a trouper the whole time. She recruited Lauryn," Meyers said. "To be in that situation and to recruit such a powerful and strong athlete and have the confidence to say, 'You're going to compete against me for a spot, but I'm going to introduce you to the sport anyway.' That speaks loads about Lolo's character. She doesn't get enough credit for how hard she works and how much she's dedicated to performing for Team USA because she truly is."

The women's bobsled team could not have performed with greater team cohesion and humility. They made each of us in the United States proud.

With the men’s and women’s two-man bobsled events complete, the focus now shifts to the four-man competition this Saturday and Sunday. Steven Holcomb will pilot the Team USA sled with Steven Langton, Christopher Fogt and Curtis Tomasevicz to defend their gold medal finish at the 2010 Vancouver Games. 


P M Prescott said...

It's been exhausting watching all the coverage of the Olympics, but enjoyable. Wife likes hockey, I tolerate it.
Great to have bobsledding back in the medal column for USA

Michael Manning said...

P M: It has been terrific to watch the games. Hope we maintain our Gold in the 4-man bobsled this weekend! :)