Courtesy of teamusa.org
CALGARY, Canada (August 1, 2013)- Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) led Katie Eberling (Palos Hills, Ill.) by just 0.06 seconds to claim her second consecutive women’s bobsled national push championship title today. Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.), a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 meters, is the most recent track and field sensation to test her skills behind a bobsled, and she finished behind Eberling for third.
“The athleticism of this team is incredible and these athletes continue to surprise me every time we do something, whether it’s the combine, push championships, or in the weight room,” said women’s bobsled head coach Todd Hays, who is a 2002 Olympic medalist in four-man bobsled. “The level of athleticism is continuing to rise in the sport of bobsled each season, and the addition of Lauryn is a great example of that.”
Evans led the women with a perfect score in Tuesday’s combine test, and burst off the blocks today with the fastest times in both heats, 5.472 and 5.549 seconds, to secure her second title with a total of 10.931. The second-year push athlete was a sprinter in college before taking interest in bobsledding last summer. Evans won the 2012 push championship title before she had even taken a trip in a bobsled.
“I definitely feel more confident this year after my performances last season, and just having a year of sliding under my belt gives me some added confidence,” Evans said. “I’m more aware, and I know what to expect this season. Now I can focus on the things that matter, like my technique. I think I can be more explosive off the block, so I’m going to continue working on that with hopes of mastering it before the season.”
Eberling, like Evans, won the title in her rookie season on 2011 and has since emerged as one of the nation’s top push athletes. The two-time World Championship medalist posted runs of 5.485 and 5.506 for a combined time of 10.991 seconds.
“This is the first stage of a long season ahead, so I’m pretty happy with how I performed,” Eberling said. “There’s incredible talent from top to bottom, so I knew I would have to come out and give everything I had today. It’s a different feeling now that I’ve been in the sport for two years, because there’s an expectation to do well now. I just trusted in my training, tried to relax while still being aggressive, and I think I was able to do that.”
Williams announced her retirement from track in June before deciding to participate in the bobsled combine test and push championships. She heard about the sport through various conversations with track athletes, and talked to Lolo Jones at a race. Jones convinced Williams to give it a try.
“My interest was piqued when I heard fellow athletes were trying out last year,” Williams said. “I have always enjoyed the power and strength part of track and think doing it all on ice makes it that much more fun. Plus, I love roller coasters.”
Williams made a strong statement about her potential with push times of 5.588 and 5.556 seconds. Her combined total of 11.144 placed her in third position.
“This was a really exciting opportunity for me,” Williams said. “The atmosphere said that something serious was happening, but at the same time it was very positive and motivating. All the girls are super supportive and help however they can.
Today was only William’s third time pushing a bobsled, and she said she’s already addicted.
“I am very eager to make the most of the next eight weeks and learn as much as possible,” she said. “I want to be a bobsledder.”
Olympian Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif) finished fourth with a combined time of 11.148 seconds. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa) clocked 11.176 for fifth place, and second-year competitor Cherrelle Garrett (Hayward, Calif.) was sixth with a total of 11.229. Full results are listed below.
The men’s push championships are up next from 2-4 pm. Pilots will compete in a competition from the driver’s bar tomorrow from 5-7 pm before the coaches select team combinations for push sessions on Saturday.
“We’ll get a chance to see how athletes push together with another evaluation on Saturday,” Hays said. “There’s great depth on the team for both drivers and pushers, so many of these athletes will get another opportunity to show what they are made of in an actual race in October.”
“Anytime we’re in the Ice House and I hear the start bell go off, I get goosebumps under my skin,” Hays said. “I understand what they are feeling, and I know they are prepared and ready to get this season underway.”
1. Aja Evans 10.931 (5.472, 5.549); 2. Katie Eberling 10.991 (5.485, 5.506); 3. Lauryn Williams 11.144 (5.588, 5.556); 4. Emily Azevedo 11.148 (5.582, 5.566); 5. Lolo Jones 11.176 (5.589, 5.587); 6. Cherrelle Garrett 11.229 (5.589, 5.640); 7. Kristi Koplin 11.233 (5.608, 5.625); 8. Tracey Stewart 11.258 (5.637,5.621); 9. Maureen Ajoku 11.469 (5.732, 5.737); 10. Brittany Reinbolt 11.527 (5.775, 5.752); 11. Ida Bernstein 11.778 (5.897, 5.881); 12. Micaela Damas 11.840 (5.921, 5.919); 13. Valerie Smith 11.971 (5.959, 6.012); 14. SineaidCorley 12.005 (5.981, 6.024); 15. Phaidra Knight 12.240 (6.100, 6.140);
Story & photo courtesy of teamusa.org