LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — There’s no place like home. Especially for Jamie Greubel Poser and Elana Meyers Taylor.
On their home track, the two U.S. bobsled pilots drove to a 1-2 finish at the Lake Placid World Cup, the second stop in the 2016-17 IBSF World Cup tour. And Greubel Poser, paired with Aja Evans as her brakewoman, shattered the track record on their first run by almost a half second. Their two-run time of 1:52.02 was Greubel Poser’s first world cup victory since she won on the Lake Placid track last season, in January 2016.
“[Going 1-2] is definitely our goal when we’re here,” said Greubel Poser. “But it’s nice to actually make it happen because it’s not as easy as it sounds.”
The gold is Greubel Poser’s eighth medal in the past 10 world cups.
With brakewoman Lolo Jones, Meyers Taylor was thrilled and relieved to take the silver medal in 1:52.16. It was Meyers Taylor’s first world cup medal this season; she and Kehri Jones (no relation) crashed two weeks ago at the Whistler World Cup.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Meyers Taylor. “Coming off last week, I was a little anxious, a little nervous. It was really a testament of battling my will, and Lolo did a great job.”
The winners of the Whistler World Cup, Kaillie Humphries and Cynthia Appiah from Canada won the bronze medal in 1:53.05.
The Lake Placid race marked the return of Olympians Jones and Evans, who paired with Greubel Poser and won a bronze medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. After the Sochi Games, both push athletes began training for the 2016 Olympic Games in track and field — Jones for hurdles and Evans for the heptathlon. But Jones had hip surgery last November to repair a torn labrum, then she tore her hamstring when she tried to return to training too soon. She missed competing at 2016 Olympic Trials.
Evans tore the ACL in her right knee while training for hurdles and has undergone two surgeries. Both women returned to bobsled this fall. While Jones is not yet up to full speed — and spent last night in the hospital with a violent stomach bug — Evans is stronger than ever.
“It’s crazy coming back off injury because I’ve never experienced a big injury like that,” said Evans, who admitted that she was unsure how her knee would hold up to bobsledding. “So to recover as well as I did and already hit some of my marks that I hit Olympic year as far as strength and conditioning go, so shout out to my trainer Jacob Ross for that.”
On their first run, Greubel Poser and Evans powered off the line just 0.02 behind the start record, set by Meyers Taylor and Cherrelle Garrett two years ago. Then Greubel Poser found more time down the track, made hard by frigid temperatures. She lowered Meyers Taylor’s track record from 56.28 to 55.81.
“My fastest time down the track before that was in the mid 56s or maybe low 56s,” said Greubel Poser. “So to come across the line and see 55.81, I was screaming my lungs out. We were so excited to know that we went that fast. We knew it was going to be fast today, but we literally gave everything we had at the top, and it was really a nice surprise to see that time when we crossed the finish line.”
Having achieved consistency from race to race, Greubel Poser’s goal is to set more track records this year.
And start records, added Evans, who is impressed — and inspired by — how much Team USA’s drivers have improved in the past two bobsled seasons.
For Meyers Taylor, the silver medal felt like gold after the crash in Whistler — and Jones’ stomach bug.
“I don’t have driving experience to know what Elana is going through,” said Jones, a two-time Olympic hurdler. “But I do have hurdle experience, and I know what it’s like to crash and hit a hurdle and have to race again. What she overcame to come back and drive really good today, I’m so proud of her. Me getting sick and having that obstacle to overcome, we’re proud of this effort. This is a gritty effort we both had to do to get this silver medal today.”
Meyers Taylor missed half the season last year while recovering from a concussion. But she returned to the world cup in February and won the final two world cups and took a bronze medal at the world championships (with brakewomen Lauren Gibbs and Kehri Jones). The consummate teammate, she was as happy for Greubel Poser and Evans as she was for herself and Jones.
“Jamie did a great job,” said Meyers Taylor. “She drove really well, they pushed really well. It just shows how strong Team USA is.”
“They’re great competitors, they’re great friends,” added coach Brian Shimer of Greubel Poser and Meyers Taylor. “They pull for each other. At the same time, they are trying to beat one another. They know, hey, if I’m going to win this race, I’ve got to beat either Jamie or Elana. It’s a great problem to have as a coach.”
Meyers Taylor will wrap up the Lake Placid World Cup tomorrow racing in the four-person event, with three brakemen, including her husband Nic.
A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered four Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.