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6 U.S. Athletes To Watch At The Bobsled & Skeleton World Championships

By Stuart Lieberman | Feb. 10, 2016, 2:25 p.m. (ET)

(Front to back) Steven Holcomb, Carlo Valdes, Adrian Adams and Samuel McGuffie compete in their first run of the four-man bobsled competition at the BMW IBSF Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup at Veltins Eis-Arena on Dec. 6, 2015 in Winterberg, Germany.

When competition runs get underway at the 2016 IBSF World Championships on Friday in Igls, Austria, the American contingent will have an impressive mix of veterans and newcomers competing for medals in every event.

With many of its bobsled and skeleton team members having crossed over to the sliding ice from other sports, Team USA is composed of athletes who have been competing at the top level of one sport or another for the majority of their lives.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the top U.S. athletes to watch at the world championships, which run from Feb. 12-21 and will showcase 280 athletes from 28 countries fighting for every thousandth of a second.

Steven Holcomb, Men’s Bobsled
Olympic medals: 1 gold (Vancouver 2010 four-man), 2 bronzes (Sochi 2014 two-man, Sochi 2014 four-man)

World championship medals: 5 golds (2009 four-man, 2012 two-man, 2012 four-man, 2012 team, 2013 team), 5 bronzes (2008 team, 2009 two-man, 2009 team, 2011 four-man, 2013 four-man)

Outlook: In his 18th year in the sport and 14th as a driver, the three-time Olympian (2006, 2010, 2014) is heading to Igls in search of his 11th world championship medal. He became famous on the global stage and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after ending a 62-year gold-medal drought and winning topping the Olympic podium with his “Night Train” crew of Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz in 2010, all after struggling with potentially career-ending blindness leading up to those Games. After overcoming that and becoming a podium regular, he tore an Achilles tendon at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and strained a quadriceps muscle in his right leg earlier this season. But he’s powered through yet again, winning his first world cup medal in two years in January — a gold on the Lake Placid, New York, track nonetheless — and then took silver in the two-man race at the St. Moritz Cup just last week.

Jamie Greubel Poser, Women’s Bobsled
Olympic medals: 1 bronze (Sochi 2014)

World championship medals: None

Outlook: As the No. 2-ranked women’s bobsledder in the world this season behind Canada’s two-time defending Olympic medalist Kaillie Humphries, the former Cornell track and field athlete has been unstoppable in the sled. In seven world cup events this season, Greubel Poser, married to German bobsledder Christian Poser, has snatched gold twice, silver once and bronze three times, meaning she has only missed the podium once. In her eighth season now on Team USA, the pilot is on fire and has never been more prepared to go after her first world championship medal. She has come a long way from her days as a horse-riding show jumper growing up and will certainly be one of the favorites on the women’s side in Igls. So you better not blink.

Elana Meyers Taylor, Women’s Bobsled
Olympic medals:
1 silver (Sochi 2014 as pilot), 1 bronze (Vancouver 2010 as brakewoman)

World championship medals: 3 golds (2012 team, 2013 team, 2015 two-woman as pilot), 2 silvers (2009 two-woman as brakeman, 2013 two-woman as pilot), 1 bronze (2012 two-woman as pilot)

Outlook: Following her switch to the driver’s seat after pushing Erin Pac to bronze at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Meyers Taylor quickly rose through the ranks to claim silver at Sochi 2014 and continue the U.S. women’s program’s medal-winning legacy. But this season, the wife of U.S. men’s bobsledder Nic Taylor who just a year ago was arguably the best women’s bobsled pilot in the world after winning six of eight world cups and becoming the first U.S. women’s pilot to win a world title, has only finished on the podium twice and has missed four world cup events. The 31-year-old was sidelined by ongoing concussion symptoms such as headaches and fatigue that have carried on from a crash at a world cup event on Jan. 16, 2015, in Koenigssee, Germany. But she returned to the circuit last week and won gold in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Impressive, but just look at what she’s done outside bobsled. She once played softball for George Washington University, played two camps with the U.S. rugby sevens squad and last summer interned in the International Olympic Committee’s finance department in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Cherrelle Garrett, Women’s Bobsled
Olympic medals: None

World championship medals: 1 gold (2015 as brakewoman)

Outlook: Although she’s only 5-foot-5 and was just introduced to bobsled by Meyers Taylor three years ago, the former Cal track and field standout is already a world champion on the sliding track. In her 13 world cup appearances between this season and last, Garrett was won 10 medals (seven golds, one silver, two bronzes) with Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser. Wherever you see Garrett in Igls over the next week, she could very well be in the winning sled.

Matt Antoine, Men’s Skeleton
Olympic medals: 1 bronze (Sochi 2014)

World championship medals: None

Outlook: Antoine began skeleton in 2003, but it took nearly a decade for him to become a podium regular on the international stage after being cut from his first skeleton camp. He had only won two bronze medals in 28 world cup appearances up until 2013, but then he had a breakthrough season that included a gold and two bronze world cup medals, in addition to a bronze medal in his Olympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Games. The top men’s American skeleton athlete is ranked No. 6 in the world this season and, though he hasn’t medaled at a world cup yet this season, could be a surprise medalist in Igls.

Annie O’Shea, Women’s Skeleton
Olympic medals: None

World championship medals: None

Outlook: From claiming the 2007 America’s Cup title in her first year on the U.S. national team to her first victory on the world cup circuit last month, O’Shea has steadily risen through the ranks and could just be entering the prime of her career this season. Ranked No. 5 internationally, she is the top American woman heading into the world championships and has three world cup podium performances to her name, including that first-place finish at January’s Lake Placid event and a silver medal in Whistler, British Columbia, also from last month. O’Shea was originally a track and field athlete and the 2004 New York state champion in the pentathlon, and although she didn’t love skeleton at first, she was able to successfully transition to the sport after high school thanks to her adrenaline-junkie personality. 

Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Steven Holcomb

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Jamie Greubel Poser

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Elana Meyers Taylor

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Cherrelle Garrett

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Matt Antoine

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Annie O'Shea