Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans compete in women's bobsled at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 20, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs set three records in just the first two heats of women’s bobsled on Tuesday night. They, along with teammates Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans, will compete for medals in the final two heats of the event Wednesday night.
Meyers Taylor and Gibbs, making her Olympic debut, sit in second place with a combined two-run time of 1:41.33, just 0.07 behind Germany’s Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz.
Meyers Taylor and Gibbs’ first run of the evening not only earned them a spot at the top of the rankings for that heat, but set both a new start record and a new track record of 50.52 seconds on the PyeongChang track.
And yet they, too, struggled with the infamous Curve 9 that has been giving all sliding athletes a hard time throughout the Games.
“Curve 9 is tricky,” Meyers Taylor admitted. “I had a little problem there but at the end of the day, it’s a lot faster than we’ve trained on it before… My reaction was a hair off so I was a little late and got a little bit of a wall there, but, you know what? I’ve learned a lot from today and I’m going to go after it tomorrow, clean up some things.”
She and Gibbs broke their first-run start record of 5.22 with a 5.21 start on their second run.
Meyers Taylor, a bronze medalist from Vancouver 2010 as a brakeman and the defending silver medalist from Sochi 2014 as a driver, says that she’s looking forward to studying what happened tonight and coming out tomorrow to fight for the only missing hardware from her Olympic collection. But no matter what happens, the 33-year-old plans on enjoying every hundredth of a second out on that Olympic ice.
“At the end of the day, I’m always hungry to win a race, but this year’s given us a lot of perspective,” she said, alluding to the unexpected death of her friend and mentor, Steve Holcomb, in May 2017. “We’ve come out, worked really hard, but we’ve been through a ton. But you know what? Tomorrow, win, lose or draw, we’re also going to enjoy it. We’re going to go out there and have a blast because we’ve come too far not to enjoy it and that’s what this is all about.
Greubel Poser and Evans, defending bronze medalists who also teamed up in Sochi, finished the night in fourth place with a combined time of 1:41.58. They are 0.02 seconds from the third-place sled of Stephanie Schneider and Annika Drazek of Germany.
Their first run of 50.59 had them in third, just 0.07 seconds behind Meyers Taylor and Gibbs at the time.
“We were just trying to come here and do what we’ve been doing all week,” Greubel Poser said. “Just because it’s the Olympics doesn’t change anything. It’s still a bobsled race. We just focus on the same things we’ve been focusing on all season: our driving, our pushing, our preparation [and] our recovery.”
In a sport measured to the hundredth of a second – and that saw two men’s teams tie for two-man gold Monday – the American teams know anything can change in the third and fourth heats on Wednesday.
“The job’s not done yet, so it’s not time to look at what I’ve done,” Gibbs said of her record-setting pushing. “It’s time to look at what more can I do or can we do.”
Cat Hendrick is a student in the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is part of TeamUSA.org’s coverage team for the PyeongChang Games.