Williams, Eberling and Cunningham win 2014 US National Bobsled Push Championship titles

Oct. 16, 2014, 3:08 p.m. (ET)

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

Williams, Eberling and Cunningham win 2014 U.S. National Bobsled Push Championship titles


LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Oct. 16, 2014)- Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.), Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.) and Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) kick started the 2014-2015 season by winning their respective titles at 2014 U.S. National Bobsled Push championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. today. Williams returned to only her second season as a bobsledder to win the women’s brakeman title, while Eberling and Cunningham won the pilot push titles. Selections continue tomorrow with the men’s push competition.

“It was really inspiring to get back out there and be on the track and to win my first push championships,” Williams sad. “I think it’s really awesome to see all of the new girls so bubbly and excited about bobsled, and I really relate to that feeling since that was me not even a year ago. I’m really looking forward to the season.”

Williams expressed her interest in bobsled last summer and finished third in her first attempt pushing a sled at the 2013 U.S. National Bobsled Push Championships. The rookie blazed through her rookie season and made history as only the fifth person to medal in both the Winter and Summer Olympics after earning silver in Sochi, Russia as a brakeman in Elana Meyers Taylor’s (Douglasville, Ga.) USA-1 sled. Williams has quickly become the veteran and is expected to lead the team as the only returning women’s Olympic push athlete.

Williams ran away with the title by 0.16 seconds after posting identical push times of 4.78 seconds for a total of 9.56. Lauren Gibbs (Denver, Colo.), who won the preliminary push championships last month, tied returning national team member Cherrelle Garrett (Oakland, Calif.) for second place with a combined time of 9.72 seconds. Gibbs posted pushes of 4.85 and 4.87 seconds, while Garrett clocked runs of 4.87 and 4.85. Former UNC Asheville track and field athlete Natalie Deratt (Asheville, N.C.) finished fourth.

Eberling launched her first season at the helm of the sled by winning the women’s pilot competition by 0.06 seconds. Eberling is a decorated push athlete, and she began her driving career after returning from Sochi, Russia last spring. Eberling was the fastest pilot in both heats with push times of 4.20 and 4.21 seconds.

“I think anytime Elana isn’t entered into the competition there’s an asterisk next the win, but it feels good to start the season with a win and to get back into competition mode after a long offseason,” Eberling said. “I’ll be taking a step back from competition and focusing on the element of driving this year. To be successful at the national and international level you have to know how to be a great push athlete and driver, and I know I have a long way to go with driving.  I’ll be focused on getting as many runs as I can and as much experience as possible while having fun and enjoying the sport.”

Olympic bronze medal pilot Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.), who married German bobsled Olympian Christian Poser this summer, finished second with a total time of 8.47. Emerging elite driver Maureen Ajoku (San Jose, Calif.) clocked a combined push time of 8.72 seconds for third.

Two-time Olympic medalist Meyers Taylor did not compete while recovering from an injury. She said her main focus is “being healthy and prepared for the season,” which begins next week with national team selection races. Meyers, who married teammate Nic Taylor in April, had previously won six national push titles and would have been a favorite for the 2014 title.

“There’s no doubt that I will be ready,” Meyers Taylor said. “We have the coaches and medical staff to ensure that.”

Cunningham led the men’s pilots with a two-run time of 7.93 seconds to win the men’s competition for the third straight year. Cunningham competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games as a push athlete for Mike Kohn before transitioning into the driver’s seat, and raced in the 2014 Sochi Games as a pilot.

“As a competitor, I always want to win,” Cunningham said. “We are going through a rebuilding phase with our program, so to come out here and start the season out like this and to see the depth of pilots is a great thing to see. It’s the first day pushing for a lot of us, so to come out and see where I am compared to everyone else is always nice, but we’re all excited to get on ice and down the hill next week.”

Up and coming driver Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) impressed the coaching staff with push times of 3.99 and 4.01 seconds, placing him in second. Rookie pilot Andrew Blaser (Salt Lake City, Utah) was third with a total time of 8.05, followed closely behind by Olympic champion Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) in fourth.

John Napier (Schenectady, N.Y.) was a surprising addition to the men’s driver’s roster. Napier retired following the 2010 Winter Olympic Games after 18-years as a bobsled pilot to begin his education at Florida Southern College. He competed today, finishing fifth, and said he didn’t have intentions of making a full comeback this season but was open minded for the future.

“I am back to enjoy myself and to spend time with the team,” Napier said. “I missed being around the team and the guys. This culture is a part of my life and it seems no matter how far I run away, it will always be near to my heart.”

Pilots will build their teams for national team selection races based on results from push championships. Bobsled athletes are scheduled to get on ice for the first time of the 2014-2015 season in Lake Placid on Monday, and races begin on Oct. 25th.

Media and fans are encouraged to attend U.S. National Bobsled Push Championships, which continue tomorrow with the men’s competition at 10 a.m.  The push track is located at the rear of the Olympic Training Center. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250. 

Stay updated on the team’s progress leading up to the biggest event of the season by following the team on the USBSF Twitter page or the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Facebook page. 

Results

Women's brakeman:

1. Lauryn Williams 9.56 (4.78, 4.78); 2. Lauren Gibbs 9.72 (4.85, 4.87); 2. Cherrelle Garrett 9.72 (4.85, 4.87); 4. Natalie DeRatt 9.91 (4.93, 4.98); 5. Michelle Howe 10.06 (5.01, 5.05); 6. Kelly Curtis 10.07 (5.03, 5.04); 7. Ajla Glavasevic 10.15 (5.07, 5.08); 8. Kristen Bennett 10.16 (5.06, 5.10); 9. Caitlin C Stuetz 10.21 (5.10, 5.11); 10. Shelby Williamson 10.35 (5.17, 5.18); 11. Sineaid Corley 10.42 (5.21, 5.21); 12. Leslie Stratton 11.04 (5.49, 5.55); 13. Cheyenne Jenks DNF (5.32, DNF)

Women's drivers:

1. Katie Eberling 8.41 (4.20, 4.21); 2. Jamie Greubel Poser 8.47 (4.23, 4.24); 3. Maureen Ajoku 8.72 (4.36, 4.36); 4. Brittany Reinbolt 8.78 (4.37, 4.41); 5. Kristi Koplin 8.84 (4.42, 4.42); 6. Nicole Vogt 9.25 (4.62, 4.63);

Men’s drivers:

1. Nick Cunningham 7.93 (3.95, 3.98); 2. Codie Bascue 8.00 (3.99, 4.01); 3. Andrew Blaser 8.05 (4.02, 4.03); 4. Steve Holcomb 8.19 (4.09, 4.10); 5. John Napier 8.22 (4.10, 4.12); 6. Shane Hook 8.37 (4.18, 4.19); 7. Geoff Gadbois 8.38 (4.19, 4.19); 8. Jake Peterson 8.44 (4.18, 4.26); 9. Gage Galusha 8.48 (4.22, 4.23); 10. Hunter Church 8.56 (4.26, 4.30); 11. Bryan Berghorn 9.73 (4.86, 4.87);

About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Century 21 Real Estate, CEVA Logistics, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, 24 Hour Fitness, KBC Helmets, Eastern European Distribution Company, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, Inc., EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.

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