PREVIEW: USA Bobsled 2017 World Championships

PREVIEW: USA Bobsled 2017 World Championships

Elana Meyers Taylor and Jamie Greubel Poser lead U.S. roster for Bobsled World Championships

Elana Meyers Taylor (l) & Jamie Greubel Poser.    (Photo credit: Molly Choma)

~by Rick Woelfel~

Three American sleds will be in the field for the world women’s two-woman bobsled championship in Königssee, Germany. The competition gets underway with two heats on Friday and concludes with two more on Saturday.

Olympic medalists Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) and Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.), who have each won six medals in seven races, were named to the team as the top-ranked pilots. Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas) and Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) will push for Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser, respectively.  Brittany Reinbolt (Searcy, Ark.) will be the third American driver. She’ll be joined in the sled by Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, CA).

The 32-year old Meyers Taylor won gold at the word championships in Winterberg, Germany with Cherrelle Garrett as her brakeman. That marked the only time an American sled has taken gold at the women’s world championship.

Meyers Taylor is no stranger to success in her sport’s most prestigious events. She earned a silver medal as a brakeman in the 2009 world championships before teaming with driver Shauna Rohbock to win a bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Following the Games, Meyers Taylor switched to driving.   Just two years later, she won a bronze medal at the 2012 worlds and claimed a silver medal the next year. In 2014 she claimed her second Olympic medal, a silver, with Lauryn Williams as her brakeman.

Meyers Taylor noted her approach changed when she started driving. “My mindset has always been about getting the most out of myself and my body and performing to my best,” she said, “but of course it had to change when I transitioned from brakeman to driver.  As a driver, you have to be sure to keep yourself healthy first and keep your mind healthy as well.”

“You are literally one mistake away from disaster at all times, so you must make sure you are mentally sharp.  Also, as a pilot you race every week so you must be patient with yourself and understand that you will not be at your best every week.  Sometimes you will just need to work with what you have and make the most of it.  You have to be a mental rock to be a successful bobsled pilot.”

Meyers Taylor played softball at George Washington University and briefly played the sport professionally. She also earned two caps with the Team USA rugby 7s side. In 2007 she switched to bobsledding a sport in which the balance between team goals and individual ambition is not necessarily easy to maintain.

“In all sports athletes are focused on performing their best and accomplishing their goals,” she said. “However, unlike softball and rugby, the team aspect is quite different in bobsled- which changes your mindset.  In softball and rugby you win and lose as a team and you grind it out as a team.  In bobsled, yes you have a brakeman- but often that changes.  Also, you have a team- but you compete against the other US sleds- basically, them accomplishing their goals means you won’t accomplish yours (when winning is the goal) and vice versa- so it creates an interesting dynamic. You have to look out for yourself while being a team player.  Things get quite interesting.”

Königssee is a familiar venue to the Americans Meyers Taylor and Jones who won a World Cup over the track just three weeks ago, while Greubel Proser and Evans placed second.

The track features 16 curves and will measure 1251.2 meters for the competition. Meyers Taylor said it requires precision precise driving.

“The track starts out with a series of 4 alternating direction curves, called the S curves.  Building speed through here is all about having rhythm and being smooth.  S4 is super important as it leads into what’s called- the bend-away- a straight away with curves that can be tricky.  Then comes Kriesel; a huge three wave corner where races are won or lost, leading into two chicanes or doodles- where I’ve had my fair share of crashes.  Overall the track depends a lot on rhythm and feel, but requires pilots to be smooth and precise.  It’s going to be a great race.”

This marks the third time Königssee has hosted the women’s world championships. It also served as the championship venue in 2004 and 2011 with German teams taking gold on each occasion. Americans Jean Racine and Vonetta Flowers took a bronze medal in 2004, while Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming claimed a silver medal seven years later.

Related article…Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser finish 1-2 in Koenigssee’s women’s bobsled World Cup


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Rick spent more than 15 years in broadcasting before going into print journalism; covering a wide variety of sports during his career but derives his greatest satisfaction from writing about golf and golf history.

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