Last June, Jessica Davis was ready to walk away from sports. The professional sprinter and former USC Trojan had lost her love for training and stopped enjoying track and field.
Nine months later Davis has successfully transferred her talents and is now a world championship medalist in bobsled.
She helped the six-person U.S. team earn bronze in the bobsled/skeleton team event Sunday evening in Whistler, British Columbia.
Teams are comprised of a men’s skeleton athlete, women’s bobsled team, women’s skeleton athlete and two-man bobsled team, which each take one run. The event is not on the Olympic program and only contested annually at world championships.
Greg West began the competition with the sixth-best run in men’s skeleton in 53.46 seconds. Next came the team of driver Brittany Reinbolt and brakewoman Davis, who had the fastest women’s bobsled run in 52.67 seconds. Savannah Graybill followed that with a third-place finish in women’s skeleton (54.15 seconds) to put the U.S. in medal position. Geoff Gadbois and Kris Horn then secured the bronze by taking eighth in the men’s bobsled in 52.21 seconds.
Germany won in 3:31.85 and Canada was second in 3:30, just 0.49 seconds ahead of the U.S. team.
Reinbolt had finished fifth with Olympic silver medalist Lauren Gibbs in the women’s bobsled competition earlier in the day.
"I really wanted to do better than fifth, so it feels good to come out and do better in the team event," Reinbolt told USA Bobsled & Skeleton. "It's a crazy track to do three runs in one day, which showed in the women's bobsled heat. But I love this track, and I drive better when I'm more relaxed. Jessica is a blast to slide with, and I had a lot of fun, which made me slide faster."
Davis discovered bobsled, which was entirely foreign to her, when her coach suggested she try the sport before calling her athletic career quits. She attended a USA Bobsled & Skeleton combine and applied for the second season of “Milk Life presents, Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.”
Next Olympic Hopeful is the United States Olympic Committee’s talent-identification program intended to increase and enhance the pipeline of world-class athletes pursuing Olympic sport. Registration is now open for the third season at TeamUSA.org/NextOlympicHopeful.
Davis was selected as one of 90 finalists to attend a tryout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, over the summer.
The 26-year-old later went on to finish second at USA Bobsled’s rookie push championships and fourth at the national push championships in the fall, eventually being chosen as one of six brakewomen named to the world cup team.
Davis has competed in five world cup races with Reinbolt, twice finishing fifth, and is now a world medalist.
“I would love a medal,” Davis told her alma mater last month, “but just competing for my country is super fun. I get on the line, and they say, ‘USA – Jessica Davis.’ When I hear them say that, it means the world.”
A second U.S. team, which included Next Olympic Hopeful finalist Sylvia Hoffman as the brakewoman, placed fourth in the bobsled/skeleton team event in 3:32.88.