Meyers Taylor and Bailey win 2016 USA Bobsled Push Championship titles
Elana Meyers Taylor pushes during the first heat of the 2016 USA Bobsled National Push Championships.
CALGARY, Canada (Sept. 21, 2016) - Two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) and Olympic sprinter Ryan Bailey (Salem, Ore.) won their respective titles at 2016 USA Bobsled National Push Championships in Calgary’s Ice House this morning. This was Meyers Taylor’s eighth start title, the fifth since becoming a driver. Baily, the anchor for the 2012 London Olympic Games 4x100m relay team that set an American record of 37.04 seconds, won the men’s push athlete preliminary competition in Lake Placid, N.Y. last month to earn his chance to test his mettle against the national team today.
USA Bobsled National Push Championships are a prerequisite for any athlete who wants to be on the national team this winter, although first year athletes are exempt. According to the 2016-2017 bobsled criteria, new athletes are waived from the requirement to compete in USA Bobsled National Push Championships their first year in the sport, allowing the coaching staff to continue recruiting leading up to trials.
“It’s great getting everyone back together on ice,” Meyers Taylor said. “We train all summer for this, it’s what we live for. It’s so much fun to be back out there, to see everyone making improvements.”
Meyers Taylor was dominant in the women’s pilot push competition, winning by 0.36 seconds with start times of 5.49 and 5.50 seconds for a total of 10.99. She was the only competitor today to push sub 5.60 seconds.
“I think it helps to see where I’m at right now, and to see where I need to go and where I need to pick up,” Meyers Taylor said. “It’s great to get the first competition of the season underway. Anytime you hit the ice you want to break records, and while I didn’t do that today, walking away with a win is awesome.”
Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.) tied Brittany Reinbolt (Searcy, Ark.) for second place with a combined time of 11.35 seconds. Greubel Poser posted push times of 5.68 and 5.67 seconds, while Reinbolt clocked 5.69 and 5.66 seconds.
Bailey edged the men’s push athlete field by 0.10 seconds in combined time to claim the 2016 USA Bobsled National Championship title in only his second week involved in the sport. Bailey competed in and won preliminary championships last month, but the renowned sprinter didn’t have any expectations coming into this week’s competition.
“I didn’t know what to think coming into this competition,” Bailey said. “Rookie camp was different because we were all rookies learning the sport, and I wasn’t expecting to be good. Coming in to race against the vets, I knew it would be tough, but after the first few pushes I thought alright, I might have a good shot. To actually win the first year, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Bailey pushed a time of 5.00 seconds from the brakes and 5.05 seconds from the side for a total time of 10.05. This week was the first time he’s pushed on ice.
“It’s a lot faster on ice, a lot faster,” Bailey said. “It wasn’t too much different at the start, but once it hit the crest and started going downhill the sled picks up speed really fast. I tried to think to myself, ‘Run faster, run faster.’”
When asked if he had the same internal dialogue while sprinting in track and field events, he said it was just reserved for bobsled.
“Definitely just bobsled,” Bailey said with a laugh. “In track I’m not trying to jump into a metal sled.”
Bailey’s win today puts him in strong contention for making the national team in his rookie season, which would put him one step closer to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
“My goal is to get to the Games, the Olympics are huge,” Bailey said. “To get a chance to compete in the Winter Olympics would be amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be possible, so getting this chance is mind blowing.”
Evan Weinstock (Greenville, S.C.) finished second in 10.15 with times of 5.05 from the brakes and 5.10 from the side. Two-time World Cup medalist Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.) clocked 5.08 from both the brakes and the side for a total of 10.16 to finish third. Weinstock was awarded the team’s MVP award for his display of values last season, and Valdes earned the 2016 Men’s Bobsled Athletes’ Choice Award.
Tyson Gay (Lexington, Ky.), the American record holder in the 100m, opted not to compete in the men’s push competition today. Gay flew to Calgary two days ago after finishing commitments following the 2016 Rio Olympics and has pushed a sled no more than 10 times. After meeting with the coaching staff it was decided that it was in Gay’s best interest to focus on learning and to watch today’s competition. He is expected to continue training with the team and may compete in the combination pushes later this week.
Willie Gault (Griffin, Ga.), a former NFL wide receiver for the Bears and Raiders and a member of the 1980 Summer Olympics team that was boycotted by the U.S., has been assisting the coaching staff with recruitment. Gault joined the bobsled team after the Bears’ NFL season ended early in 1988 and was named to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. He flew to Calgary yesterday and considered jumping into the competition, but opted out this morning.
The 2016 USA Bobsled National Push Championships continue later today at 2 pm MT with the men’s driver and women’s push athlete competitions.
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1. Elana Meyers Taylor 10.99 (5.49, 5.50);
2. Jamie Greubel Poser 11.35 (5.68, 5.67);
2. Brittany Reinbolt 11.35 (5.69, 5.66);
4. Kristi Koplin 11.45 (5.73, 5.72);
5. Kristen Hurley 11.58 (5.79, 5.79);
6. Nicole Vogt 11.65 (5.82, 5.83);
Men’s Push Athletes
1. Ryan Bailey 10.05 (5.00, 5.05);
2. Evan Weinstock 10.15 (5.05, 5.10);
3. Carlo Valdes 10.16 (5.08, 5.08);
4. Sam McGuffie 10.21 (5.09, 5.12);
5. Austin Landis 10.23 (5.10, 5.13);
6. James Reed 10.27 (5.10, 5.17);
7. Nathan Gilsleider 10.28 (5.12, 5.16);
8. Chris Kinney 10.30 (5.13, 5.17);
9. Lou Moreira 10.31 (5.13, 5.18);
10. Adrian Adams 10.33 (5.15, 5.18);
11. Sam Michener 10.36 (5.14, 5.22);
11. Casey Wickline 10.36 (5.16, 5.20);
13. Hakeem Abdul-Saboor 10.38 (5.16, 5.22);
14. Brent Fogt 10.40 (5.19, 5.21);
15. Frank Del Duca 10.42 (5.20, 5.22);
16. David Cremin 10.45 (5.21, 5.24);
17. Nicholas Taylor 10.46 (5.22, 5.24);
18. Dillon Schrodt 10.60 (5.25, 5.35);
19. Deangelo Wilson 10.66 (5.28, 5.38);
20. Miles Dunlap 10.72 (5.30, 5.42);
21. Kristopher Enslen 10.78 (5.37, 5.41);
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, UberSense, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Stress Engineering, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at www.usabs.com.