Headlined by Olympic and world championship medalists, USA Bobsled & Skeleton has announced the 22 athletes who will compete on the world stage in the final full season before the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The selections were based on results from a series of four national team trials races held during the past two weekends in Lake Placid, New York, and Park City, Utah.
By virtue of her bronze medal at last year’s world championships, pilot Elana Meyers Taylor automatically earned a spot on the women’s team, but still participated in the trials and demonstrated she has not lost her edge, winning two of the four races. The two-time Olympic medalist will be joined by Jamie Greubel Poser, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and six-time medalist on the 2015-16 world cup circuit, who scored wins in the other two races to secure the first open pilot’s spot.
The third pilot’s seat went to Brittany Reinbolt, a former push athlete who earns her first national team selection as a pilot. After transitioning to the pilot’s role following the 2012-13 season, she scored at total of six podium finishes in the last two seasons racing the North American Cup series.
Two members of the 2014 Olympic team lead a talented group of women’s push athletes: Aja Evans, who rode with Greubel Poser to the bronze medal in Sochi, and Lolo Jones, a two-time track Olympian who also raced in Sochi. They are joined by Lauren Gibbs, who is back for her third tour on the national team after pushing Meyers Taylor to the world championship podium last year. Kehri Jones follows her breakout rookie season with selection to her second squad, while Briauna Jones makes the team for the first time.
On the men’s side, young Codie Bascue, a 2012 Youth Olympian, staked his claim by winning all four trials races, earning a spot on the team for the third consecutive year. The other two pilot slots when to veteran Steven Holcomb and Justin Olsen, who, like Reinbolt, has crossed over from push athlete to pilot and earns his first selection in that role. Olsen already has an Olympic gold medal to his credit as a push athlete, earned as a member of Holcomb’s famed “Night Train” four-man team at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
After winning the four-man gold in Vancouver and bronzes in both two- and four-man in Sochi, Holcomb, a five-time world champion, hopes to bounce back from a rough 2015-16 season which saw him battle injuries.
Four men’s push athletes are back for their third season on the national team: Adrian Adams, Sam Michener, Jimmy Reed and Carlo Valdes. Five more were named to the team for a second time: Frank Del Duca, Nathan Gilsleider, Austin Landis, Sam McGuffie and Evan Weinstock. Rookies Luis Moreira and Christopher Kinney round out the squad.
The team now turns its focus to the world cup opener, set for Dec. 2-3 in Whistler, British Columbia, followed Dec. 16-17 with a home ice race at Lake Placid, New York. After the first of the year, the tour heads to Europe with date in Altenberg and Winterberg, Germany. After a stop in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the tour heads back to Koenigssee, Germany, then Igls, Austria. Following a break for the 2017 world championships in Sochi, Russia, the world cup season wraps up March 13-19 on the 2018 Olympic track in PyeongChang, South Korea.