Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s team leads USA Bobsled with four medal finishes in opening North American Cup races
WHISTLER, Canada (Nov. 8, 2018)- The women’s team led USA Bobsled in the first North American Cup races of the season with four medal finishes in Whistler yesterday and today. Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) teamed with Lake Kwaza(Sycamore, Ill.) for the silver medal yesterday, and paired with 2018 USA Bobsled National Push Champion Sylvia Hoffman(Arlington, Texas) today for gold. Brittany Reinbolt(Searcy, Ark.) and Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, Calif.) claimed yesterday’s bronze, while Nicole Vogt(Dallas, Texas) and Nicole Brungardt(Norfolk, Neb.) were today’s bronze medalists.
Whistler will host the 2019 World Championships in March, and the USA Bobsled National Team opted to train and compete in the North American Cup races to not only gain experience on the world’s fastest track, but also to give the multitude of rookies on the team time in a sled before World Cup begins.
“We’ve got a lot of rookies and I’m racing with people I’ve never raced with before, so it’s great to get that experience,” Meyers Taylor said. “Plus with the coaching staff changes and a smaller staff, it’s been nice to try to work out some of the kinks before we hit World Cup. Also, coming off the Olympics, it’s difficult to feel like you’re in a rhythm and you’re ready to get going again. It’s nice to do it now before World Cup starts.”
Although Meyers Taylor earned her first of three Olympic medals on the Whistler track as a brakeman for Erin Pac, she’s had limited experience driving the course.
“Obviously I’ve got great memories here, so it’s a special track for me, but I haven’t had much success as a pilot. It’s been really nice getting some extra runs this week to figure things out. It’s still a work in progress though.”
Canadians Julie Johnson and Cynthia Serwaah won the first women’s race for the host nation with a combined time of 1:46.56. Three-time Olympic medalist Meyers Taylor and Kwaza were in the lead with a first heat time of 53.00 seconds, but a mistake in the second run resulted in the fourth-best time of 53.76. Johnson and Serwaah took advantage of the opportunity, sliding ahead of the Americans to claim gold by 0.20 seconds. Meyers Taylor and Kwaza blasted the sled off the start for the fastest push times of 5.13 and 5.14 seconds.
“I was very excited with the way Lake pushed, especially as I’m still recovering from my Achilles injury from last season, so it’s nice to know that we’re going to be fast when it matters most,” Meyers Taylor said. “I’ve learned so much this week about this track and I’ll be excited to come back after a full season of driving.”
Reinbolt teamed with 2018 Olympic silver medalist Gibbs for bronze with a two-run total of 1:46.88. The duo posted starts of 5.24 and 5.21 seconds for runs of 53.27 and 53.61 seconds, respectively. Reinbolt and Gibbs secured bronze with the second fastest time of the second heat.
Vogt and Hoffman finished seventh with a total time of 1:48.55 after crossing the finish in 54.49 and 54.06 seconds.
In today’s women’s race, Reinbolt and Jessica Davis(Gardena, Calif.) had a large lead of 0.14 seconds over teammates Meyers Taylor and Hoffman. Reinbolt and Davis were on pace to maintain their lead, but a mistake in corner 13 caused the sled to roll and the team was disqualified. Meyers Taylor and Hoffman moved into gold medal position with a total time of 1:46.75. The duo clocked starts of 5.18 and 5.15 for runs of 53.20 and 53.55 seconds, respectively.
“I always want to win races, but at the end of the day, the goal of this entire trip is to figure stuff out so I can drive it well at World Championships,” Meyers Taylor said.
Johnson and Serwaah earned another medal for the host nation, silver, with a combined time of 1:47.37, while Vogt and Brungardt secured the fourth medal for Team USA, a bronze. The Americans were in sixth place after a first run of 53.59 seconds, but a seamless second run of 53.96 moved them into the medals with a total time of 1:47.55.
In the men’s field, Canadian Justin Kripps swept both races. He posted a total time of 1:43.58 yesterday to win with Benjamin Coakwell, and a combined time of 1:43.72 to win today’s race with Ryan Sommer.
Team Canada swept the medals yesterday. Nicholas Poloniato and Cameron Stones were second in 1:43.95 followed by Chris Spring and Sommer in third with a 1:43.99. Americans Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (Powhatan, Va.) narrowly missed the medals, finishing fourth in 1:44.08. The team’s first run time of 51.86 was second best of the heat, but Bascue and Abdul-Saboor fell back after the fifth best time of 52.22 in the final run.
“I am extremely happy with how Hakeem pushed and how my first run went,” Bascue said. “I think it is a good sign to be in the mix with the Canadians on their home track to start the season and I think we can just build on that. I’m a little disappointed with my second run, but are here to learn.”
Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) and rookie Blaine McConnell (San Diego, Calif.) finished seventh with an aggregate time of 1:44.67. Olsen and McConnell pushed start times of 4.89 and 4.92 for runs of 52.31 and 52.36 seconds, respectively. Olsen won the 2010 Olympic four-man bobsled gold medal in Whistler as a push athlete with pilot Steven Holcomb.
In today’s race, Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain from Monoco claimed silver in 1:44.04, followed by Canadians Taylor Austin and William Auclair with a 1:44.32. Bascue teamed with Josh Williamson(Lake Mary, Fla.) for another fourth place finish. Bascue was again in third after a first run time of 51.97 seconds, but a mistake in the final run dropped them back into fourth. The Americans narrowly missed bronze with a combined time of 1:44.54.
“I haven’t had as much experience as I’d like on the Whistler track, so it was nice to be able to spend some time taking extra runs and learning this track even more,” Bascue said. “It’s always nice to start the season with a North American Cup race to get those first few races out of the way and ease into the season. This is the circuit I started competing on, so it is kind of fun to come back and race. It also gives us an opportunity to learn in a race environment and see what the track will be like at race speed.”
Olsen and rookie Kyler Allison(Austin, Texas) posted starts of 4.89 and 4.90 for runs of 52.51 and 52.69 seconds, respectively, for a total time of 1:45.20 to finish eighth.
The Whistler North American Cup continues tomorrow and Saturday with double four-man races. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at email@example.com, or at (518) 354-2250.
Men’s Two-man Bobsled #1:
1. Justin Kripps and Benjamin Coakwell (CAN) 1:43.58 (51.72, 51.86);
2. Nicholas Poloniato and Cameron Stones (CAN) 1:43.95 (51.90, 52.05);
3. Chris Spring and Ryan Sommer (CAN) 1:43.99 (51.89, 52.10);
4. Codie Bascue and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (USA) 1:44.08 (51.86, 52.22);
7. Justin Olsen and Blaine McConnell (USA) 1:44.67 (52.31, 52.36);
Men’s Two-man Bobsled #2:
1. Justin Kripps and Ryan Sommer (CAN) 1:43.72 (51.72, 52.00);
2. Rudy Rinaldi and Boris Vain (MON) 1:44.04 (51.95, 52.09);
3. Taylor Austin and Auclair William (CAN) 1:44.32 (52.09, 52.23);
4. Codie Bascue and Josh Williamson (USA) 1:44.54 (51.97, 52.57);
8. Justin Olsen and Kyler Allison (USA) 1:45.20 (52.51, 52.69);
Women’s Bobsled #1:
1. Julie Johnson and Cynthia Serwaah (CAN) 1:46.56 (53.07, 53.49);
2. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lake Kwaza (USA) 1:46.76 (53.00, 53.76);
3. Brittany Reinbolt and Lauren Gibbs (USA) 1:46.88 (53.27, 53.61);
7. Nicole Vogt and Sylvia Hoffman (USA) 1:48.55 (54.49, 54.06);
Women’s Bobsled #2:
1. Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman (USA) 1:46.75 (53.20, 53.55);
2. Julie Johnson and Cynthia Serwaah (CAN) 1:47.37 (53.28, 54.09);
3. Nicole Vogt and Nicole Burngardt (USA) 1:47.55 (53.59, 53.96);
Brittany Reinbolt and Jessica Davis (USA) (53,06, DNF);
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, Thorne Research, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USABS website atwww.usabs.com.