Photo by Associated Press.
Lauren Gibbs and Aja Evans were picked Saturday as the push athletes who will join pilots Elana Meyers Taylor and Jamie Greubel Poser on the U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled team.
Gibbs will be in Meyers Taylor’s sled at the Pyeongchang Games. Evans will push for Greubel Poser, a combination that earned the U.S. a bronze medal at the Sochi Games four years ago — as well as a gold medal in a World Cup race at the Olympic track in South Korea last season.
“We don’t take this decision light-heartedly,” USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said. “The selection committee chose the athletes they think have the best chance of bringing home hardware from Korea for Team USA. I wish we could take the entire team with us because they’ve all proven how hard-working and determined they are in addition to being incredibly talented.”
Briauna Jones will go to Pyeongchang as the team’s alternate, and could be called upon if either Gibbs or Evans is injured.
Lolo Jones, who pushed Meyers Taylor to a World Cup gold earlier Saturday in St. Moritz, Switzerland, did not make the team. She was bidding to become a four-time Olympian — twice in the summer as a hurdler, twice in the winter as a bobsledder.
Meyers Taylor won silver in Sochi with Lauryn Williams, who has since retired from the event.
Meyers Taylor and Greubel Poser will both have medal potential in Pyeongchang. Meyers Taylor is ranked second in this season’s World Cup points race, Greubel Poser fourth.
The U.S. used six push athletes in World Cup races this season, and five had legitimate cases for Olympic team inclusion — meaning the selection committee had long known it would have a brutal time picking a roster for Pyeongchang.
It got even tougher Saturday.
The U.S., which expected to get three sleds qualified for the Olympics, wound up with only two after USA-3 driver Brittany Reinbolt missed the third berth by finishing about one-sixth of a second slower than she needed to at the St. Moritz World Cup on Saturday. So instead of five women being under consideration for three push spots, it became five for two.
Athletes were told to prepare for an 11 p.m. local time announcement in St. Moritz, where the committee was meeting. That announcement got pushed back about 30 minutes, presumably because the committee needed more time to crunch its data.
The U.S. is the only nation to win at least one medal in every Olympic women’s bobsled race, including the silver and bronzes from Sochi four years ago.
Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers won gold at Salt Lake City in 2002, Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming claimed silver at Turin in 2006, and Erin Pac and Meyers Taylor — then a brakeman — got bronze at Vancouver in 2010.
The Olympic teams for men’s bobsled, women’s skeleton and men’s skeleton are scheduled to be nominated Monday.