Women's bobsledders move from summer sports to icy track
Unlike most Olympic athletes who train their entire life to represent their country competing against the world's top athletes, bobsledders start a little later in life. Most athletes are recruited for their speed and strength.
Jazmine Fenlator and Emily Azevedo, Lake Placid, NY World Cup, Dec 2013. Credit: Pat Hendrick
For Team USA's Women's Bobsled line-up, a lot of the athletes stepped out of a summer sport and onto the ice. Today, the women face off against the teams from other countries in Sochi. Only one is a veteran to the Winter Games, but none are strangers to competition.
Meyers has been training to be an Olympian from age 9. Originally hoping to make it on to the summer sport softball, she changed gears after retiring and took to the ice in 2007. She made the U.S.'s national bobsled team her rookie year. Within three years she was standing on the Olympic podium receiving a Bronze medal in Vancouver. Meyers is one of three designated drivers for the national team.
"Bobsled is a later-in-life sport," Meyers said. "We recruit people who have strength to get the sled in motion and speed so we can do it as fast as possible."
Chicago native Evans sprinted onto the bobsled scene her rookie year scoring 794 out of 800 points in a combine test, winning the 2012 U.S. National Push Championship and breaking the start record in the 2012-2013 team selection races, according to teamusa.com. She decided to get into bobsled after her track coach at the University of Illinois guided her in that direction. With one season under her belt, Evans has yet to crash in her bobsled career, which is unusual.
"It's a crazy, exhilarating thing to do, speed down the track at 60 miles per hour," Evans said. "The whole way down all you hear is rattling and feel your body shake. At the bottom, you want to get out of the sled and walk away. Only the crazy go back to the top."
Former Cornell University heptathlete, Greubel is working towards making it on the Olympic team after being an alternate during the last winter Olympics. She's been working on her speed, strength for years just to pay off during a two-minute race. Gruebel will be guiding her two-man team down the mountain as a driver.
Jones compared her first run to being thrown off of Mt. Everest in a can. Taking to the ice in 2012, she made the Olympic team in less than two years. But Jones is no stranger to the Olympic Games, as she competed in the London 2012 Summer Olympics. She competed in the 100-meter hurdles, placing fourth. After her time in London, Meyers recruited Jones to give bobsled a try. She made the national team months after joining the sport.
Williams is no stranger to the Olympics. The gold medalist competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She brought home a silver medal in the 100-meter dash. She's also competed in multiple world championships since 2002, when she placed first in the World Junior Championships. Odds are she won't be rocking the singlet if she makes it to Sochi.
Fenlator also ditched her track singlet for a warmer alternative when she took to the ice in 2007. A track and field competitor in shot put, discus and hammer, Fenlator has faced hardship during her time on the ice. Her family nearly lost their home to Hurricane Irene. She has also watched as her mother slowly loses her health but continued training with blessing from her mom.
"She dropped me off at the airport and as soon as she got home, had a stroke," Fenlator said. "It's hard not being there, but she won't let me stop. I'm pushing myself not just for myself but for her. I want to make it for her."
BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 41 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.