Meyers Taylor makes history with four-person bobsled World Cup debut, Holcomb leads Team USA in seventh place

Dec. 20, 2014, 7:27 p.m. (ET)

sContact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Meyers Taylor makes history with four-person bobsled World Cup debut,
Holcomb leads Team USA in seventh place


Photo credit: Charlie Booker

CALGARY, Canada (Dec. 20, 2014)- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) finished seventh tonight as the top U.S. finisher in Calgary’s four-person bobsled World Cup race, and Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) and Canadian Kaillie Humphries made headlines as the first women to race in a four-person bobsled World Cup since the elite circuit was created in 1984.  

“Everyone was so excited to see us race today and it really helped me realize the significance of the moment,” Meyers Taylor said. “There were some little girls at the track that were excited to watch women’s bobsled today, and hopefully what Kaillie and I are doing inspires them. I hope someday a woman racing in four-man isn’t news. I’m willing to do anything it takes to advance our sport, even if it means racing twice in a day.”

Meyers Taylor raced to a gold medal finish in the women’s bobsled World Cup just an hour before the start of the four-person race.

“It was more challenging than I expected to switch from a two-man sled to a four-man sled in one day, so I take it with a grain of salt and feel blessed to have the opportunity to be racing in both disciplines,” Meyers Taylor said. “It was fun, although I can’t say I’m too thrilled about my driving in the four-man sled.”

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation declared the four-person discipline gender neutral this fall, and both women’s pilots earned their positions at the helm of their nation’s third ranked sled in their respective national team selection races. Meyers Taylor took her first trips in a four-person sled just the week before trials, and has only a handful of runs at each stop on tour to learn the track from the four-person driver’s seat before race day.

They aren’t the first women to race with the men. USA Bobsled & Skeleton Hall of Fame inductee Katharin Dewey was a pioneer of women’s bobsledding and piloted her team to a historic victory in the 1940 U.S. Championships when mixed teams were allowed. Women were later banned from bobsled races “on the grounds that the sport is too hazardous for them,” reported The Au Sable Forks Record-Post. “Women bobbers then claimed the men were jealous.”

“Katharin is such an inspiration to me for what she did in her day,” Meyers Taylor said. “It’s pretty cool to be following her lead, and all of the women that have come before me have really set the standard. I know how much drivers like Shauna Rohbock wanted this opportunity, so the least I can do is hop in a sled and take some trips.”

Women’s bobsled became an official World Cup discipline in 1998, 58 years after Dewey’s national win, and the discipline made its Olympic debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. The U.S. is the only nation to medal in every women’s bobsled Olympic event since the discipline made its debut. Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers won the inaugural race in 2002 and Robbock teamed with Valerie Fleming to earn silver at the 2006 Torino Games. Meyers Taylor contributed two medals to the count, including a bronze medal as a push athlete for Erin Pac in the 2010 Vancouver Games and a silver medal in the 2014 Sochi Games as a pilot. Humphries won both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles for Canada to begin their own legacy in the sport. Both Meyers Taylor and Humphries campaigned for the opportunity to race in the four-man, now four-person, discipline.


“Today was really cool,” Holcomb said. “I’m not sure why women racing four-man was ever a question. Driving is a skill, it’s not gender biased. Elana and Kaillie did a great job today, and they proved women are capable of racing in four-man. Hopefully it increases interest.”

Meyers Taylor teamed with Dustin Greenwood (Palmyra, Va.), Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Adrian Adams (Reidsville, N.C.) in the Classroom Champions sled for 16th place with a total time of 1:49.52.  Humphries finished one spot ahead in 15th with a combined time of 1:48.87.

Holcomb teamed with a new crew combination of Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.) and David Cremin (Annandale, Va.) for seventh place. The crew pushed together only a handful of times before the race and clocked starts of 5.16 seconds in both heats, compared to the best start time of 5.01 pushed by Latvian Oskars Melbardis’ team.

“You need three things to win a race, and it’s a good push, good drives and good equipment,” Holcomb said. “My crew today only had a few days to push together, and they gave everything they had. I can’t ask for more than that. Last year my crew had a combined 30 years of experience, and this year we don’t come close to that. There are some big shoes to fill, and we have a lot of ground to make up. These guys are working hard to get there though, it will just take some time.”

Holcomb piloted his BoDyn sled to the finish in 54.04 and 54.25 seconds for a total time of 1:48.29.

“My second run was the best run of my season,” Holcomb said. “I don’t really feel like I’m back in my groove yet after testing some new sled setups, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

Melbardis and his push team of Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janie Strenga were victorious by 0.17 seconds with a two-run total of 1:47.84. Germans Francesco Friedrich, Jan Speer, Martin Grothkopp and Thorsten Margis were second with a combined time of 1:48.01. Maximilian Arndt from team Germany piloted his crew of Kevin Korona, Joshua Bluhm and Ben Heber into third place with a total time of 1:48.14.

Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) was in medal contention with the fifth fastest time of the first heat, but a late entry into corner eight depleted time in the second run. Cunningham and his team of Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.), Casey Wickline (Greenville, S.C.) and James Reed (Garmisch, Germany) finished 12th with a combined time of 1:48.62.

Questions regarding the U.S. team can be directed to Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com.

Results:

1. Melbardis, Dreiskens, Vilkaste and Strenga (LAT) 1:47.84 (53.63, 54.21); 2. Friedrich, Speer, Grothkopp and Margis (GER) 1:48.01 (53.91, 54.10); 3. Arndt, Korona, Bluhm and Heber (GER) 1:48.14 (53.90, 54.24);…7. Holcomb, Olsen, Clark and Cremin (USA) 1:48.29 (54.04, 54.25); 12. Cunningham, Wickline, Reed and Michener (USA) 1:48.62 (53.98, 54.64);…16. Meyers Taylor, Greenwood, Valdes and Adams (USA) 1:49.52 (54.84, 54.68);

About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Park City Lodging, Inc., Classroom Champions, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usbsf.com.

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