PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 7, 2013) – The U.S. made history by sweeping the medals in today’s Women’s bobsled World Cup, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by the American women’s team since 2001 (Jean Raccine and Jen Davidson won, followed by Bonny Warner and Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken and Kristi McGihon). The team finished 1-3-4 yesterday, and the taste of a sweep was enough to drive them to gold and double silver medal performances.
Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) and Aja Evans (Chicago. Ill.) were victorious again by over half a second. Jamie Greubel (Newtown, Pa.) and Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa) tied teammates Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) and Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.) for silver to complete a sweep of the podium.
“We switched out several brakemen today and had great results, so it just shows how strong this team is from top to bottom,” Meyers said. “I can’t say enough about our mechanics that prepared the sleds for us to race today. We have the best support staff in the world.”
The U.S. women have a goal of sweeping the medals in Sochi, and they were a step closer to making that vision a reality after yesterday’s performances. Bobsled assistant coach Mike Kohn said the only thing that could be better than a sweep would be a three-way tie for gold. The women must have been listening, because they finished 1-2-2 today.
“We’ve seen over and over how fast and consistent all of our driver’s are and now the goal needs to be to take all of the medals in Sochi,” Fenlator said.
“Tell Sochi to start making more gold medals now,” Williams joked. “I like the idea of finishing 1-1-1.”
Yesterday’s gold medal performance fueled Meyers and Evans to yet another victory. The duo dominated the competition from start to finish with the fastest start and finish times. Despite the snow, Meyers and Evans pushed the BMW sled off the block with powerful start times of 5.22 and 5.15 seconds for runs of 49.25 and 49.36 seconds, respectively. They were welcomed to the finish to “USA” chants from fans and teammates as they claimed gold by 0.63 seconds with a combined time of 1:38.61.
“A double win just feels amazing,” Evans said. “To me and Elana, we knew this was a possibility, so to finally show the world what we are capable of was amazing. Two races back-to-back is just like Sochi, so hopefully this is a preview.”
The Olympic format will be four runs held over two days, unlike a World Cup that is two heats in one day. The women’s bobsledders raced in two competitions in the Park City event, which echoes the Olympic format.
Greubel and Jones had a slight hiccup at the start in the first run, but Greubel gained back time before the second interval to put the crew in the running for gold with a run of 49.42. Fenlator and Williams trailed their teammates by just 0.02 seconds after the first heat, putting Team USA in contention for a sweep.
Fenlator and Williams, who raced her first World Cup today, were the first U.S. team to take their run in the final heat. They clocked the second fastest start time and were guaranteed a medal after crossing the finish line with a two-run total of 1:39.24.
“I’m feeling awesome,” Williams said. “It has been really fun to learn this whole process. I got on the line and said, ‘I don’t want to disappoint Jazmine.’ I’m a rookie and I have to do this.”
Williams, a 4×100 m Olympic gold medalist, took her first trip in a bobsled in October after finishing third in the U.S. National Bobsled Push Championships. She made a quick impression and was named to the national team in her first season.
“Lauryn has been thrown to the wolves in a sense to have to compete against our team of push athletes as a rookie, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way that she performed today,” Fenlator said. “She is always smiling and that keeps me calm at the line. My teammates have been driving really well and they push me.”
Greubel and Jones were up next, and the pair bettered their start by 0.08 seconds to help power the Putinka branded sled to the finish with an identical combined time of 1:39.24. Both teams knew they could do no worse than second place.
“I was exciting to come out on the ice again and race with Lolo for the first time,” Greubel said. “I’m very happy with my result today. We have an incredibly strong program, the strongest ever this season. As a driver I’m so grateful to have so many great push athletes. Lolo pushed her guts out today and I wouldn’t expect anything less from any of the other brakeman. It feels good to medal, but I like to keep my ego in check and earn it every week.”
“It feels great to be on the podium,” said Jones, whose last World Cup medal finish was with Fenlator in Lake Placid, N.Y. last winter. “With bobsled you never know when you are going to be on the podium and how long it will be before you are back on again. It makes you cherish the moments when you are doing well. Our drivers are doing outstanding this year.”
The U.S. teams embraced in the leader’s box as they watched Meyers and Evans solidify the historic moment of a women’s sweep of the medals after securing gold.
“It felt pretty sweet to win gold yesterday, so to come out here and do it again I can’t put into words how happy we are,” Meyers said. “We knew the teams before us were tied. It was a good feeling because we knew whether or not we won, that a US sled was going to win this race.”
All three teams are racing in the new BMW manufactured bobsleds, which were unveiled in October. So far the women have claimed seven World Cup medals in just three races.
1. Elana Meyers and Aja Evans (USA) 138:61 (49.25, 49.36); 2. Jamie Greubel and Lolo Jones (USA) 1:39.24 (49.42, 49.82); 2. Jazmine Fenlator and Lauryn Williams (USA) 1:39.24 (49.44, 49.80);