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American sledders take title

March 21, 2017
Lake Placid News

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - Jamie Greubel Poser teamed with Aja Evans to claim her second World Cup win of the season Saturday to secure the overall World Cup title by 14 points on the 2018 Olympic track in Pyeongchang.

Elana Meyers Taylor teamed with Lolo Jones for the silver medal to cap yet another successful season for two-time Olympic medalist Meyers Taylor, who rallied to third overall in World Cup points.

"I'm really speechless right now," Greubel Poser said. "I can't believe it all came together for the win and the World Cup title. I honestly wasn't focused on that, I was just focused on working on what I needed to on the track."

Greubel Poser and Evans were the first American team to take a race run and the 2014 Olympic bronze medalists set the pace with a start record of 5.29 seconds before navigating the KOA branded BMW sled to the finish for a track record time of 51.79 seconds.

Four sleds later in the start order, teammates Meyers Taylor and Jones took to the ice, resetting the start record by 0.01 seconds and claiming a new track record of 51.71 seconds in the BMW sled. With just 0.08 seconds separating the two American teams, the gold medal would be decided in the final run.

Greubel Poser and Evans nearly matched their first start time with a push of 5.30 seconds to begin their campaign for gold in the finale. Greubel Poser threaded together a flawless run of 51.86 seconds for a two-run combined time of 1:43.65 to secure medal position. The color of their medal would be determined after their teammates, Meyers Taylor and Jones, took their final descent of the season.

Meyers Taylor and Jones responded by smashing their previously set start record time with a push of 5.25 seconds, but Meyers Taylor lost velocity out of corner two and tapped the wall in chicane to lose 0.15 seconds to Greubel Poser. Meyers Taylor and Jones crossed the finish line in 1:43.80 for the silver medal, Meyers Taylor's seventh World Cup medal of the season, while Greubel Poser and Evans were assured the victory. Canadians Alysia Rissling and Cynthia Appiah finished third in 1:44.06.

"I need to give a big thanks to the staff that's here with us," Greubel Poser said. "It's been a challenging few weeks, but everyone that's here as our support staff has given everything they could this week to help us succeed."

"I'm super excited about the start record and our first run," Meyers Taylor said. "I made a big mistake out of corner two in the second heat, but to come away with USA in first and second is huge. We learned a lot over these three weeks on this track by experimenting with lines and seeing what's fast."

Greubel Poser was just 27 points behind Canadian Kaillie Humphries in overall World Cup rank heading into Saturday's finale, and Humphries opened the door for Greubel Poser to snag the crystal globe with a poor first run that placed her in only sixth position. Humphries, the reigning Olympic champion, moved up one spot into fifth by a mere 0.01 seconds in heat two. If Greubel Poser had remained in second place, she would have been edged out of the title by single digits; but the American dug it out to claim the crown with 1,644 points.

"One of the coaches tried to say something to me about the possibility of the overall title between runs, but I didn't want to know, I didn't want to put that pressure on myself," Greubel Poser said. "We fought for each run and I knew I needed to fix a few things in the second run, and I just can't believe I did it."

Humphries finished ranked second overall with 1,630 points, while Meyers Taylor finished third with 1,530 points. Meyers Taylor was on pace for a record setting run in the season opener in Whistler, Canada, but crashed halfway down the course resulting in a disqualification.

She's been on fire since then with a medal streak that included the 2017 World Championship title.

"There were a lot of ups and downs for me this season, but with the help of my teammates I was able to push through," Meyers Taylor said. "Coming away with third overall is a huge accomplishment, especially when I started the season with a crash."

Brittany Reinbolt and Lauren Gibbs slid a total time of 1:44.79 for 11th place. The duo pushed off the start block in 5.40 and 5.43 seconds for runs of 52.40 and 52.39 seconds, respectively. Reinbolt rounded out her first season on the World Cup tour ranked ninth.



PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - Three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcomb teamed with Carlo Valdes, Jimmy Reed and Sam McGuffie to round out the 2016-2017 season ranked third in both four-man bobsled World Cup standings and combined two-man and four-man standings after finishing 10th in Sunday's World Cup finale on the 2018 Olympic track.

"I feel pretty good," Holcomb said. "The final rankings came down to the very last run, it was pretty close. I got lucky that people close to me didn't have as good of runs as they could have, which helped us out. Considering where we were a year ago, I'm happy with our overall finish."

Holcomb, Valdes, Reed and McGuffie pushed the BMW sled off the start block in 4.96 seconds and Holcomb threaded together a run of 50.23 seconds to tie Germany's Francesco Friedrich and crew for 10th going into the final run of the season. Team USA rallied together in the second run for another competitive start time of 4.97 seconds, and Holcomb bettered their downtime to 50.22 seconds to overtake team Friedrich by a mere 0.01 seconds with a combined time of 1:40.45 to not only secure 10th place, but third place in four-man and combined standings.

Three medals in two-man racing this season, including a victory in Lake Placid and two medals in four-man highlighted Holcomb's season. He struggled to find a rhythm at the start of the season and Holcomb admitted he considered retiring from the sport, but 13 top-10 finishes and five medals kept the former world champion hungry for more.

"I think people started to count me out at the beginning of the season and I even thought that maybe it was time to hang it up," Holcomb said. "To come back and redeem ourselves like this, I'm pretty happy. These guys on the team have heard stories about our winning seasons and it's almost like a myth to them, so to have them see the crystal globe and see it come to fruition in front of them and know that we can win is huge. I hope it carries over into next season as we ramp up for the Olympic season."

Russia's Alexander Kasjanov, Alexei Pushkarev, Vasiliy Kondratenko and Alexey Zaitsev were victorious today with a total time of 1:39.96. Rico Peter, Janne Bror van der Zijde, Alex Baumann and Thomas Amrhein from Switzerland were second in 1:40.19, while Latvians Oskars Kibermanis, Janis Jansons, Matiss Miknis and Raivis Zirups were third in 1:40.22.

Kasjanov secured the overall four-man title with 1,500 points, followed by Peter in second place with 1,471 points and Holcomb in third with 1,362 points.

Friedrich entered Sunday's race ranked first in combined standings, just 84 points ahead of Holcomb in second. Friedrich held onto his overall combined title with 2,769 points, while Kasjonov's win Sunday was enough to bolster him into second with 2,766 points. Holcomb wrapped up his season ranked third in combined standings with 2,693 points.

Justin Olsen, Austin Landis, Evan Weinstock and Sam Michener established themselves as one of the teams to beat off the start block after ripping off a push time of 4.89 seconds to tie Latvians Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga for the push record in heat one. Olsen, still a rookie driver, piloted the Night Train sled down the 2018 Olympic track in 50.42 seconds, the 16th best time of the run. The crew matched their start time in run two, and Olsen bettered their run time to 50.34 seconds for a combined time of 1:40.76 to move up into 15th. Team Melbardis mustered a start time of 4.88 seconds in the final heat to claim the start record by 0.01 seconds, giving Olsen's crew something to chase next season. Olsen capped his first season as a driver on the World Cup tour ranked 19th in four-man standings and 16th in the combined overall standings.

Codie Bascue and his push crew of Luis Moreira, Christopher Kinney and Brent Fogt clocked a two-run total of 1:41.31 for 20th position. The crew pushed start times of 4.98 in both heats, and Bascue navigated the Night Train II sled to the finish in 50.59 and 50.72 seconds. Bascue rounded out his season ranked 16th in four-man and 15thc in combined overall.

Sunday's four-man race officially concluded the 2016-2017 World Cup season. Team USA will head back to Lake Placid for USA National Championships before beginning the offseason in preparation for the Olympic year.



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