KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 19, 2014)- The Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse were golden in Women’s Bobsled. Team USA’s Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) and Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.) slid to a silver medal finish, while teammates Jamie Greubel (Newtown, Pa.) and Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) earned bronze at the Sanki Sliding Center tonight to continue the U.S. women’s bobsled team’s Olympic legacy.
“I fought every single second down the track and Lauryn really dug it out at the start,” Meyers said. “We gave everything we had and left it all out there. That’s really what it’s about, it’s about going out there and giving everything you can to fight for your country. We couldn’t be happier with that, and hopefully America will forgive me for letting gold slip away.”
The U.S. is the only nation to medal in every women’s bobsled Olympic event since the discipline made its debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers won the inaugural women’s bobsled race in 2002, and Flowers became the first African-American ever to win a gold medal at the Winter Games. Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming continued the medal tradition by winning silver in the 2006 Torino Games. Pac and Meyers completed the set with a bronze medal finish in 2010.
“What an incredible honor it is to be a part of two of those moments,” Meyers said. “I didn’t realize that, and it’s amazing. I think it says a lot about what our women’s team has done to continue to push through and succeed in this sport, and it feels incredible knowing I contributed.”
Meyers and Williams matched their record-breaking start time of 5.12 seconds to kick-start the final runs tonight, but Meyers opened the door for Canadians Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse to possibly snag the lead after a few mistakes down the course. USA-1’s overnight lead of 0.23 seconds decreased to 0.11 seconds as Humphries posted the fastest run of the heat, 57.57 seconds, compared to Meyers’ 57.69 seconds.
Greubel and Evans powered their BMW sled off the block in 5.20 seconds for a run of 58.00 seconds, putting them more than half a second ahead of fourth. With such a large margin between the top three sleds and the rest of the field, both American sleds and the Canadians were comfortably seated in medal position. It came down to the fourth and final heat to determine which color medal each team would receive.
Greubel and Evans posted the second fastest start, 5.18 seconds, and clocked a finish time of 58.16. Their four-run combined time of 3:51.61 was 0.66 seconds fast enough to secure the bronze medal.
“I think if you told me this, that I would get a medal here, now, I don’t think I would have believed you,” Greubel said. “Wow, we did it together is such an incredible feeling. We have such depth in our program and to finally show the world that we have so much talent and we are a force to be reckoned is awesome, because we’ve worked so hard and have always believed in ourselves, so it’s nice to put it all together and show everyone else what we can do.”
“You go into the competition setting goals for yourself, and the ultimate goal is to win gold,” Evans said. “But you go in with nothing, so to come out with a bronze, you’ve reached a goal, you’ve achieved a lot. I’m just as excited as if I’ve won gold.”
Humphries and Moyse were next on the line. The pair was only third fastest off the start block, but Humphries threaded together a flawless run to challenge the Americans. Meyers and Williams were once again the team to beat off the top, but a few mistakes down the course started to chip away at their time. USA-1 crossed the finish in 3:50.71, which was 0.10 seconds behind the Canadians. Meyers looked disappointed for a split second before she was mobbed at the finish by her teammates in celebration.
“Anytime you’re that close and you can taste it but don’t come out with that result, it hurts a little bit,” Meyers said. “But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with this medal. Kaillie beat me, and I have to deal with that. I have to go back and train even harder and we’ll see what happens. She got the best of me now, but we’ll see what happens in four years.”
Meyers raced to a bronze medal finish as a brakeman in Erin Pac’s sled at the 2010 Vancouver Games before deciding to take the reigns as a driver that spring. She quickly developed into one of the world’s best pilots, earning 12 World Cup and two World Championship medals over the last four years.
Williams joins an exclusive club of only four other athletes to win medals in both the Winter and Summer Games, and the first American woman to accomplish the feat. Williams was a member of the gold medal winning 4×100 meter relay team at the 2012 London Games before racing to a women’s bobsled silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games tonight.
“I didn’t come here to make history,” Williams said. “I came here to help Team USA, and I feel like I did the best I could. I’m just happy to be here, and it wasn’t about history for me.”
Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) and Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa) posted impressive starts of 5.27 and 5.28 seconds, fifth and fourth fastest of the night, respectively. Fenlator struggled with her runs, and the crew finished 11th with a total time of 3:53.97. While the American women fell short of their goal to sweep the podium, Fenlator and Jones were elated for their teammates. They raced through the media mixed zone to get to the finish dock before their teammates crossed the line.
“I just wanted to get my camera out of my bag,” Jones said. “It’s a historic moment, I didn’t want to miss it.”
After snapping a few photos, Fenlator and Jones returned to the mixed zone and couldn’t wait to talk about their teammates’ success.
“I couldn’t be prouder to see two USA flags raised,” Fenlator said. “Jamie, Elana and I started this journey together and to see them get medals, I am so proud of them.”
“I feel like I am in the presence of Jesse Owens when I look at Lauryn Williams,” Jones said. “I was so emotionally choked up. She just broke history, and I can’t believe it. It’s just awesome. I hope she’s a household name when we get home, because it’s just the most brilliant thing I’ve ever watched.”
All three sleds driven by the U.S. team were made by BMW and unveiled just this October.