Meyers Taylor and Gibbs race to silver in tightly contested Olympic women’s bobsled competition
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Feb. 21, 2018)- Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) teamed with Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, Calif.) for her third Olympic medal in tonight’s 2018 Olympic women’s bobsled finale, taking silver with the Olympic rookie push athlete. Teammates Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.) and Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) finished fifth after a hard-fought four heats that came down to hundredths of a second.
With the podium finish, the U.S. is the only women’s bobsled program to medal in each Olympic Games since the discipline’s debut in the Games in 2002. Meyers Taylor has claimed three of the six medals earned by the U.S. women since 2002, and is one of only two women’s bobsledders—Canadian Kaillie Humphries being the second— to earn hardware in three Olympics.
“The women’s team has been so successful and it’s an honor to live up to the legacy,” Meyers Taylor said. “We won a medal in every single Olympics, so that’s what we knew we needed to do to live up to that legacy. Of course we wanted the gold medal, but we’re going to enjoy the silver.”
“It’s incredible,” said Gibbs, who started the sport of bobsled just four years ago. “I can’t believe it. I have no words, sorry. I can’t even—this is cool."
In an email thanking the USA Bobsled & Skeleton coaches and staff on Monday night before the women’s race began, Meyers Taylor wrote, “I’ve learned so much these past few years and grown as a bobsledder and as a person. I’m prepared. Thank you for being a part. Let’s get it.”
Get it she did.
Overnight leaders of Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz were the first team to take a run in tonight’s medal deciding heats. The Germans crossed the finish in 50.49 seconds to break the 50.52-second track record set by Meyers Taylor and Gibbs yesterday.
Meyers Taylor and Gibbs responded by matching their record-setting start time in their opening heat with a push time of 5.21 seconds before inching 0.03 seconds closer to the lead with a finish time of 50.46 seconds to reclaim the track record. The only thing separating Meyers Taylor from the coveted Olympic gold medal heading into the final heat was 0.04 seconds. The two-time Olympic medalist pumped her fist at the finish, pleased with her run.
Germany’s Stephanie Schneider and Annika Drazek were in third after yesterday’s first two heats, just 0.02 seconds ahead of Americans Greubel Poser and Evans, but the pair dropped back into fifth after run three. Greubel Poser and Evans posted the second fastest start time of 5.31 for a downtime of 50.59 to temporarily overtake bronze medal position.
Canadians Humphries and Phylicia George were on the attack tonight, moving from fifth into third in run three to bump Greubel Poser and Evans 0.05 seconds out of third. Humphries was a mere 0.04 seconds from the medals going into today’s final heats.
Much like the two-man bobsled race, which culminated in double gold for Germany and Canada on Monday night, the women’s race was tightly contested heading into the fourth and final heat.
Greubel Poser and Evans busted out a start time of 5.32 seconds in the fourth heat, again second fastest, for a downtime of 50.85 seconds for an aggregate time of 3:23.02.
“Jamie and I are fighters, so we came in even after yesterday fighting to the end, and we laid it all on the line, so we are very proud,” Evans said. “It’s still tough, it’s going to be tough for a while, but we laid it all on the line, so there are zero regrets.”
Schneider and Drazek, who were fifth going into the final, managed to move into fourth with a four-run combined time of 3:22.97, bumping 2014 Olympic silver medalists Greubel Poser and Evans into fifth.
“It’s a very technical track, it’s been a little bit different each of the times we’ve been here,” Greubel Poser said. “I did my best just to dial it in. I think that’s what made it such an exciting race. It was really fun to compete on. I really, really enjoyed sliding on this track. Unfortunately, that’s part of the sport, it’s a tough sport, it’s a test of skill and it’s very challenging to do the same thing four times and I did the best I could do. I made a few mistakes, but I gave absolutely everything I had today, and I couldn’t have driven better.”
Humphries, a two-time Olympic champion that can never be counted out, and George threw down a downtime of 50.77 seconds. Her run wasn’t without error, but it was enough to secure the bronze medal in 3:22.89.
The race for gold was between the Americans and Germans. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs were the first of the two teams to take their run, and they didn’t disappoint. The duo once again powered off the block with the fastest start time of the heat, 5.23, and Meyers Taylor threaded together a beautiful run of 50.73 seconds. Knowing they’d secured at least the silver medal and had thrown down a run that would challenge the Germans, the Americans threw their hands in the air in celebration. Then they waited to see how their four-run combined time of 3:22.52 would stand up.
“I wanted to put together four consistent runs, that was my goal,” Meyers Taylor said. “I did that. I was elated. I knew I did everything I could, and that was enough.”
Jamanka and Buckwitz were in the red, but Jamanka, who has never competed in the Olympics before let alone won a World Cup competition, put together the best run of her career. The deficit slowly shrunk until the Germans took the lead by 0.07 seconds. Jamanka and Buckwitz earned the 2018 Olympic title with a combined time of 3:22.45.
“That was a race,” Meyers Taylor siad. “We made Mariama throw down, and she did. That’s what we try to do, try to put on a show. We made her go get it.
Meyers Taylor and Gibbs embraced. There wasn’t sadness; just joy. They didn’t lose the gold medal, like Meyers Taylor felt she did in 2014 when she claimed silver after leading after the first three runs to Humphries. They earned the silver medal, and the duo celebrated with teammates and coaches at the finish.
“In Sochi, going into day two with that lead over Kaillie, I was driving my sled trying not to lose the gold medal,” Meyers Taylor said. “I disappointed myself. This Olympics all I wanted to do was put together four consistent runs that I would be proud of, go out swinging. We came up short, but I feel like we gave everything we had to the very last hundredth and we won the silver medal.
“We went out there and did it, and I couldn’t be happier,” Meyers Taylor said.
Racing continues this weekend with the four-man bobsled competition on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. local time. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (518) 354-2250.
1. Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz (GER) 3:22.45 (50.54, 50.72, 50.49, 50.70);
2. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs (USA) 3:22.52 (50.52, 50.81, 50.46, 50.73);
3. Kallie Humphries and Phylicia George (CAN) 3:22.89 (50.72, 50.88, 50.52, 50.77);
5. Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans (USA) 3:23.02 (50.59, 50.99, 50.59, 50.85);