LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Nov. 8, 2012)- The U.S. women’s bobsled team has a goal of finishing 1-2-3 at the 2014 Sochi Games, and the talented squad proved they are on track by earning silver and bronze in today’s World Cup season opener at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Jazmine Fenlator (Wayne, N.J.) and Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa) leapt from sixth into silver medal position, while Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) and Olympic gold medal sprinter Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) claimed bronze.
“I’m happy, this is my home track,” Fenlator said. “There’s nothing special you need to do in Lake Placid, except make it down. It’s one of those tracks where anything can happen, so I just wanted to stay relaxed. I knew that Lolo was hyped up and ready to push fast on the second run, so our velocity was good, and I just tried to stay nice and smooth.”
Fenlator and Jones pushed the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation sled to a respectable start time of 5.60 seconds, and Fenlator piloted the team into sixth position with a first run of 57.51 seconds. Fired up for the final run, the team had an even smoother load into the sled and Fenlator threaded together a near perfect run to move the duo up four positions into silver medal position. Fenlator said having athletes with Olympic achievements like Jones and Madison on the team has helped the program advance, and although the track stars are rookies to the sport of bobsled, their experience handling stress transitioned to the ice.
“They have great experience in high pressure situations,” Fenlator said. “They stay really calm, so even though they are rookies in this sport you know that at training or game day they are going to be calm, ready to go and give it their all.”
“Jazmine is humble in her interviews,” Jones said. “She’s really dealing with a true rookie. Although I’m a veteran in my own sport, the first run she had to really drive to make up for my lack of technique. I’m still working on that. I’m not on the start line and confident in my angles at all yet, so she has to really drive amazing. My hat is off to her, because we wouldn’t be in this position without her.”
Fenlator’s time surpassed bobsled legends Sandra Kiriasis and Berit Wiacker from Germany, who dropped into fifth place. Reigning World Champion Kaillie Humphries teamed with Chelsea Valois for a total time of 1:54.86 to maintain her dominance on the Lake Placid course. The Canadian pair finished 0.47 ahead of the U.S. teams for a North American sweep of the podium.
“I’m shocked,” Fenlator said. “I thought I could climb up a couple spots, but in my wildest dreams I did not think I could make it to the podium…It just goes to show how our sport is evolving. It’s anyone’s game now.”
“Like she said, I’m kind of in shock,” Jones said about winning a World Cup medal in her debut. “We’ve been training with the other Team USA members, and it’s been an inner battle within our own team, so I think this is great that we had a great run today on race day.”
When asked what the biggest difference was between running hurdles and pushing a bobsled, Jones responded with, “You’re running on ice.”
“You do not use your arms and you’re relying on somebody else, and I’m not doing anything once I’m in the sled,” Jones said. “The main difference is the fact that it’s a rhythm with somebody else. It takes two, and I’m so used to relying on myself, and now I have Jazmine helping me. I’ve never experienced this level of having a team before- it’s great.”
Meyers claimed the 2012 World Championship bronze medal in Lake Placid last season and hoped to better her performance in the World Cup opener. Meyers and 4×100-m relay world record holder Madison posted the second and third fastest starts of the race in their debut together.
“I must say that the veterans on the team did an amazing job reaching out to us and just teaching us step by step how we should train and how we should prepare,” Madison said. “I didn’t even know about sled maintenance, so it’s a new world to us, but Elana definitely led the charge that helped bring us all together as a team.”
Meyers piloted the KOA sled to the finish in 57.37 and 57.97 seconds to give the team a combined time of 1:55.34. Despite Fenlator’s leap up in standings, Meyers was able to maintain her medal position by topping Austria’s Christina Hengster.
“I made a few mistakes, I was late off a couple corners that cost us some time,” Meyers said. “[My second run] wasn’t as clean as the first run, and I just didn’t have a smooth run.”
“First World Cup race, to walk away with a medal, that’s great,” Meyers. “It was really fun competing with [Tianna].”
Jamie Greubel (Newtown, Pa.) and Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) own the Lake Placid track start record and were the team to beat off the block again today. The pair powered the Susan G. Komen sled off the block with blistering start times of 5.49 and 5.55 seconds for runs of 57.62 and 58.03 seconds, respectively.
“It was awesome, very exciting,” Evans said. “It was fun to be out here with all the different countries and to compete on our home track.”
“I wasn’t nervous, just anxious and trying to get out there and show the world what I can do,” Evans said.
USA-2 posted a two-run combined time of 1:55.65 for ninth place. Greubel returned this season after a year recovering from a knee injury, and launched her World Cup career with a top 10 performance.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better brakeman,” Greubel said. “It was a beautiful day and the track crew did an amazing job preparing the ice. I think in this sport we’re always chasing perfect lines, and today I wasn’t able to nail a couple of the ones I was able to in practice, but I’ll keep my head up and keep working hard, and results will come with time.”
1. Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois (CAN) 1:54.86 (57.20, 57.66); 2. Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones (USA) 1:55.33 (57.51, 57.82); 3. Elana Meyers and Tianna Madison (USA) 1:55.34 (57.37, 57.97);…9. Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans (USA) 1:55.65 (57.62, 58.03);