Sochi Spotlight: Elana MeyersElana Meyers pilots a training run for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
A softball slugger and an Olympic gold medalist sprinter are ready to blaze their way into U.S. Olympic bobsled history.
Even if Sochi’s tricky curve 16 at Sanki Sliding Center delivered a painful message in training.
Elana Meyers, a bronze medalist at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and a former college softball player, will team up with Lauryn Williams, a three-time track & field Olympian and gold medalist on the 4x100-meter team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This could be the fastest sled in U.S. women’s bobsled history, but it is just one of three that the Americans think could wind up on the podium in Sochi.
“We’re going for it,” Meyers said of a possible 1-2-3 American sweep. “We have the brakeman, we have the equipment and it’s figuring out this track.”
The women’s bobsledding competition begins Tuesday, Feb. 18, with two runs at the Sanki Sliding Center. The final two runs will be Wednesday. The fastest combined times over four heats will determine the medalists.
Meyers, who played softball at George Washington University, is seeking to become the first women‘s bobsledder in U.S. history to win two Olympic medals. She was the brakeman for Erin Pac at the Whistler Olympic course in 2010 and has since moved into the driver’s seat. Williams is one of two London 2012 U.S. Olympians on the bobsled team. Lolo Jones, a two-time Olympic hurdler, will push Jazmine Fenlator in another sled. Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans will be paired for Team USA’s third bobsled.
“We’re hungry,” Fenlator said. “We’re competitors and that’s what we do. We’re representing one of the best nations in the world, and I’m biased, but one of the best nations ever and we’re hoping to sweep the podium.”
Williams has certainly been dominant in track for the United States, winning her first of two Olympic medals with a silver-medal finish in the 100-meter dash at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
In Meyers’ previous sporting life, she hit a game-winning grand slam in her final home game in 2007 at George Washington, leading the Colonials to their first appearance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
She turned to bobsledding in 2007 because she wanted to be an Olympian and the International Olympic Committee had voted in 2005 to remove softball from the Olympic program after the 2008 Games. Meyers rose quickly as a bobsledder, first as a brakeman and then as a driver after the 2010 Winter Games. She was already one of the quickest pushers in the world.“She’s hands down the best push driver in the world,” U.S. Olympic champion bobsled pilot Steven Holcolmb told TeamUSA.org.
Meyers reached the podium at the last two world championships, including winning a silver medal in women’s bobsled and gold in the team event at the 2013 worlds. Her 2013-14 world cup season has included gold medals in two separate events in Park City, Utah, and silver medals at five other world cup stops.
Her journey toward a potential medal in Sochi included a crash in a training run last Friday in which the sled rolled over. No problem at all. Meyers was back the same day for a second run.
“That’s the cool thing about bobsled, there’s that danger, that risk and possibility that something could go wrong,” Meyers said. “But I get to say, ‘Hey, you know what, I crashed. I took it to the face, but I’m going to go back up there and face my fear and do it again. I’m going to go through curve 16 and I’m going to nail it.’ That’s, to me, the coolest thing about bobsledding.”
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org.