Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, amanda.bird@usabs.com

Meyers Taylor wins gold and pilots an all-woman American sled in Igls European Cup races

IGLS, AUSTRIA (Jan. 18, 2016)- Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) made the Igls European Cup (EC) stop one she won’t ever forget. The two-time Olympic medalist and defending World Champion claimed a gold medal with newcomer Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas) on Thursday in the women’s bobsled race, but she wasn’t done. Meyers Taylor returned to the ice over the weekend, competing as one of three all-woman sleds in the four-person competition, alongside rookies Jones, Kristen Hurley (Columbia, Conn.) and Terra Evans (Phoenix, Ariz). Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) teamed up with Brent Fogt (Fort Hood, Texas), Evan Weinstock (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Luis Moreira (Dallas, Texas) to lead the American team in the four-person races with 18th and 15th place finishes.

Meyers Taylor, who competed for the first time since leaving the World Cup tour prematurely in December for rehabilitation, returned to the international ice with a bang this weekend.

“I feel great- I'm so grateful to be back in the sled,” Meyers Tayor said. “The treatment I received and the time away was much needed.  I'm a little rusty, but it felt good to be back on the ice. It's still going to take a few more runs to knock some of the rust off, but the coaches have developed a plan to do just that. Kehri (Jones) did a great job pushing me this week, but all the brakemen have been awesome and supportive. I'm a fighter, so I'm going to fight to be 100% at World Championships- that's what I'm working towards and I know I can get there.”

Jones pushed Meyers Taylor to the second fastest first run in the competition, starting in 5.50 seconds and finishing with a downtime of 53.58, 0.05 seconds behind Germany’s Stephanie Schneider and Lisa Marie Buckwitz.

In the second run, Meyers Taylor and Jones easily made up the deficit, jumping the Germans with a time of 53.62 after another start of 5.50 seconds to reach the top of the podium. Schneider and Buckwitz were awarded the silver medal, 0.13 seconds back of Team USA, while Aleksandra Rodionova and Yulia Shokshueva took home the bronze medal for the Russians in 1:48.03.

“Anytime you win a race it's awesome,” Meyers Taylor said. “I think as a competitor, I always feel like I'm ready for whatever challenges are ahead, including World Cup, but I know that it's a marathon, not a sprint. I've been mostly on World Cup for the past nine years of sliding, so it's hard that I’m not competing on the tour right now, but plans change and my focus is making the most of each run I get and coming back to World Cup strong.”

American emerging elite pilot Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.) and Hurley turned in an impressive seventh place performance on the Igls track, 1.53 seconds back of the gold medal pace with a two-run total of 1:48.73. The duo finished the first run in 54.29 for 11th place in the field, but managed to move up four positions with a 54.44 downtime in the final run.

“Learning to drive is hard due to all of the variables and limited repetitions available, but I feel like I am progressing as a pilot and having a lot of fun,” Eberling said. “I think it helps to drive new tracks, because it challenges me to make connections and add new concepts to my driver toolbox. It's all about having a purpose with every run. Also, I am surrounded by great teammates and a supportive coaching staff, who work together to create a successful learning environment.

“Considering, I am a new driver in a new sled on a new track, I am happy with a seventh place finish,” Eberling continued. “I am going to continue to focus on the process of learning to drive versus the outcome; faster times will come once I am able piece together tracks consistently. Each run got better over the three days we had in Igls, so I am happy with the progress. I thought Kristen (Hurley) did a great job of pushing me and keeping things positive-I'm really proud of her. St. Moritz was my favorite track as a brakeman, so I am looking forward to seeing it from the driver's seat.”

In the four-person race, all-woman sleds from Canada and Romania joined the American all-woman team. While it was the women that stole the show, it was 2010 Olympic gold medalist Justin Olsen’s team that led the stars and stripes on the ice. In his first year at the front of the sled, Olsen navigated the Igls track to identical two-run times of 1:44.83 in races one and two. Fogt, Weinstock and Moreira powered Olsen’s sled off the start block in 5.20 and 5.18 seconds in the first race, en route to an 18th place performance. In the finale, the American sled moved up to the 15th position after staring in 5.17 and 5.21 seconds.

“I don't think I would have had such a good week without Lou Moreira, Brent Fogt and Evan Weinstock,” Olsen said. “I've been sick since day one in Igls and they took care of business despite being rookies. Everyone was hungry this week to get better in all aspects of our sport. I am growing more comfortable with my driving each day. I've now seen five tracks from the front seat and they have all demanded new aspects of driving. The skills I've developed provide me more confidence as I move forward.”

Meyers Taylor’s team only took a single run in both competitions after failing to make the top-20 cut. Hurley, Jones and Evans pushed Meyers Taylor to downtimes of 54.28 and 54.13 for 29th and 27th place, respectively.

“It was definitely exciting to see so many women taking up the challenge of racing in the four-person competition,” Meyers Taylor said. “I'm not sure if it will be an Olympic event by the time I retire, but now that we have four-women on the IBSF four-person ranking list, it's a huge step in the right direction. I think one of the most encouraging things is that with only two runs in a four-person sled this week, the American brakewomen all loaded at full speed without any issues, which says a lot about the desire to make this work. It was extra special for me to come back and to be able to drive a four-person sled again, especially since I hadn't driven one since national team trials at the end of October.” 

Adela Maria Constantin, Andreea Grecu, Eria Anett Halay and Olivia Francisa Vild represented the all-woman Romanian sled, placing in the 27th and 26th positions. The Canadian sled consisting of Alysia Rissling, Julia Corrente, Janine McCue and Kasha Lee rounded out the all-woman competitors with a pair of 28th place finishes.

Johannes Lochner, Chris Gleichmann, Sebastian Mrowka and Matthias Sommerwere victorious for the Germans, winning double gold medals with combined times of 1:42.91 and 1:43.18. Austria’s Benjamin Maier, Markus Sammer, Marco Rangl and Danut Ion Moldovan were awarded two silver medals in the front of their home crowd in 1:42.94 and 1:43.44, while Loic Costerg, Jeremie Boutherin, Yannis Pujar and Vincent Castell turned in aggregate times of 1:43.80 and 1:43.69 for two third-place results.

“I had fun competing against the all-woman teams,” Olsen said. “When we put on our speed suit, spikes and helmet and enter the competition we become equal competitors. It doesn't matter where you are from or what you have done prior, what matters is how you perform on race day. These 12 women were ready for the test and competed hard. I think the physical differences between a man and woman is tremendously tough to overcome. The difference in start times and the total weight in the women’s sled don’t help their downtime, but they don't lack the desire to win and push the limits to be at their very best. This could be the start of a new era of bobsled, so they are pioneers.”

In the two-man bobsled race on Thursday, Olsen and Weinstock were the lone representatives from the United States. The combo destroyed the other 42 sleds in the field from the start, posting the fastest two push times in the competition, 5.12 and 5.14. After finishing the first run in 52.57 seconds, the American sled turned in a downtime of 52.71 to claim eighth in the crowded race, 1.25 seconds back of Germany’s Johannes Lochner and Joshua Bluhm, who claimed the gold medal on the Austrian track.

“I feel great about my results,” Olsen said. “I entered the week hoping to grow as a pilot. Entering a race allows for a driver to attempt to rise to the pressure and see how they fare against the track. Mistakes were made every trip but after speaking with Coach (Mike) Kohn, I am able to understand why I messed up, which will allow me to fix it the next trip down the track. My biggest area of focus for each run is consistency and hitting my marks.

“My expectations for the rest of the season are to continue to improve and rise to the occasion,” Olsen continued. “I've been giving an amazing opportunity and I don’t plan on letting it slip away. I'm ready for the challenge and intend to progress quickly and meet the expectations of my coaching staff.”

Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland were 0.36 seconds back of the pace for the silver medal, while Christoph Hafer and Marc Rademacher of Germany rounded out the medal stand with the bronze.

The EC bobsled tour will now move to St. Moritz, Switzerland for races on the all-natural track. Racing begins on Wed., Jan. 27 with the women’s bobsled and the two-man bobsled competitions. The four-person event will be Sat., Jan. 30.

Visit www.usabs.com for updates and results from the various tours. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at amanda.bird@usabs.com, or at (518) 354-2250. Get updates on the team by following USA Bobsled & Skeleton on Facebook, USBSF on Twitter and USABS on Instagram.

Results

Four-person #1

1. Lochner, Gleichmann, Mrowka, Sommer (GER) 1:42.91 (51.41, 51.50);

2. Maier, Sammer, Rangl, Moldovan (AUT) 1:42.94 (51.45, 51.49);

3. Costerg, Boutherin, Pujar, Castell (FRA) 1:43.80 (51.88, 51.92);

18. Olsen, Fogt, Weinstock, Moreira (USA) 1:44.83 (52.45, 52.38);

29. Meyers Taylor, Hurley, Jones, Evans (USA) 54.28 (54.28, DNS);

Four-person #2

1. Lochner, Gleichmann, Mrowka, Sommer (GER) 1:43.18 (51.52, 51.66);

2. Maier, Somov, Rangl, Moldovan (AUT) 1:43.44 (51.67, 51.77);

3. Costerg, Boutherin, Pujar, Castell (FRA) 1:43.69 (51.83, 51.86);

15. Olsen, Fogt, Weinstock, Moreira (USA) 1:44.83 (52.44, 52.39);

27. Meyers Taylor, Eberling, Hurley, Evans (USA) 54.13 (54.13, DNS);

Two-man

1. Lochner and Bluhm (GER) 1:44.03 (51.99, 52.04);

2. Hefti and Baumann (SUI) 1:44.39 (52.04, 52.35);

3. Hafer and Rademacher (GER) 1:44.89 (52.37, 52.52);

8. Olsen and Weinstock (USA) 1:45.28 (52.57, 52.71);

Women’s bobsled

1. Meyers Taylor and Jones (USA) 1:47.20 (53.58, 53.62);

2. Schneider and Buckwitz (GER) 1:47.33 (53.43, 53.90);

3. Rodionova and Shokshueva (RUS) 1:48.03 (53.97, 54.06);

7. Eberling and Hurley (USA) 1:48.73 (54.29, 54.44);

About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, Park City Lodging, Inc., Classroom Champions, UberSense, Tesa Tape, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Protostar, Machintek and deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at www.usabs.com.

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