Team USA earned its first double podium in women’s bobsled at the IBSF World Championships Saturday in Königssee, Germany, and the drivers who provided it were the same ones who produced the first U.S. double Olympic podium at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Elana Meyers Taylor, the silver medalist in Sochi, won gold for her second world title, while Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans, who earned bronze in Sochi, matched that result in Königssee.
Meyers Taylor and brakewoman Kehri Jones’ win marked Team USA’s second-ever world title in women’s bobsled. Meyers Taylor and Cherrelle Garrett won the first in 2015.
Meyers Taylor has now medaled at five straight world championships. The win marked the first world medal for Jones, who at 5-1 was the shortest competitor in the field.
The bronze medal also marks the first world medal for both Greubel Poser and Evans. Greubel Poser has raced at five world championships, with two previous best finishes of fifth.
After Friday’s first two runs, the table was set for a thrilling finish as the top three sleds were separated by a mere 0.05 seconds, with Meyers Taylor up on two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada by 0.02 seconds. Greubel Poser was third and well-positioned to give Team USA its first women’s double worlds podium, a feat that in the past had been reserved for the dominant Germans.
The top three sleds held their positions through Saturday’s third runs, but a slip in the middle of the course opened a gap between Humphries and Greubel Poser. With the margin between second and third expanded to 0.25 seconds, the German sled of Mariama Jamanka hoped to sneak past and keep alive Germany’s string of winning at least one in every world championships since women made their debut in 2000.
With the evening air cooling the track and making the ice harder and faster, the margin for error grew thinner with each sled down for the final run. It came down to the final three sleds, who also happened to be the top three sleds competing for the Olympic medals three years ago. Greubel Poser had a solid final run to clinch her first world championships medal with a 3:24.98, while Humphries posted a 3:24.78 for the silver. Meyers Taylor and Jones got out of the blocks with a track start record of 5.12 seconds and carried the momentum down the track to lock down the gold in 3:24.75.
Meyers Taylor picks up her eighth world or Olympic medal in the past nine years. Of the 12 worlds medals won by Team USA’s women, Meyers Taylor has been in the sled for six of them as either a pilot or brakewoman. In addition to her Sochi silver as a driver, she pushed Erin Pac to bronze at the Vancouver 2010 Games.
The win is the third in a row at Königssee for Meyers Taylor during the last two seasons. Although the track has been kind in terms of victories, not all her memories of the course are fond. It is where she suffered a concussion in January 2015, an injury that continued to affect her into the following world cup season as she battled its lingering symptoms.
Her preparation for worlds didn’t get off to the best of starts, as she and Jones crashed during their first training run. It wasn’t their first crash of the season – they tumbled during their first run at the season opener in Whistler, British Columbia, and were forced to take a disqualification that is the only thing preventing Meyers Taylor from winning her second world cup title. Since then they have reeled off six straight podiums, two silvers followed by four consecutive golds.
The bronze continues a stellar season for Greubel Poser and Evans. Greubel Poser is second in the world cup standings, only 27 points behind Humphries with one race remaining, the Olympic test event March 17-19 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Of the six world cup medals Greubel Poser has won this season in seven starts, Evans pushed her to four of them.