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Holcomb granted early induction into Hall of Fame

July 5, 2017
Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Ten USA Bobsled & Skeleton athletes were honored at the annual USABS awards banquet on Saturday at the Lake Placid Olympic Conference Center, capping the weeklong 2017 National Team Camp.

The induction of Steven Holcomb to the USABS Hall of Fame both highlighted and concluded the evening. Holcomb passed away unexpectedly on May 6, and he became the first inductee to have the Hall of Fame's 10-year clause waived on Saturday. Additionally, Holcomb earned the men's bobsled Athlete of the Year award for his performance in the 2016-2017 season, which included five World Cup medals and a fifth-place finish in the four-man World Championships in Koenigssee, Germany.

Elana Meyers Taylor took home the women's bobsled Athlete of the Year award after a season that saw her win her second World Championship title with brakeman Kehri Jones. Meyers Taylor combined forces with Jones, Lolo Jones and Briauna Jones for seven World Cup medals, including five golds.

Article Photos

USA 1 driver Steven Holcomb and his push athlete Steve Langton start a run during the two-man bobsled competition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
(News file photo — Lou Reuter)

The two-time Olympic medalist heads into the 2018 Olympic season coming off one of her most successful seasons.

"It's a huge honor and it's very humbling just knowing the depth of talent we have," Meyers Taylor said. "At any given moment, anybody could be on the top of the podium, so to win this award among such great talent is amazing, but it's more of a testament to my teammates in this sport behind me. I couldn't be up here by myself. Every single one of them played a huge role in what we do, and we continue to push each other every single day, which makes us the best team in the world."

Matt Antoine's two World Cup medals in 2016-2017 earned him the Skeleton Athlete of the Year award. Antoine took bronze in the season-opening competition in Whistler, Canada, then followed that performance with a silver on his home Lake Placid track.

Skeleton coach Tuffy Latour, who presented Antoine with his award, said Antoine has been the backbone of the skeleton team, not just this year, but for the past seven seasons he's competed on the World Cup circuit.

"He's grown and matured into a great slider and a leader among the athletes," Latour said. "He's helped to grow the skeleton program and at times sacrificed his own performance to better the team."

Olympic bronze medalists Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans teamed up for the first time since the Sochi Games to win the overall women's bobsled World Cup title. Greubel Poser and Evans were honored with USABS' Team of the Year award at the banquet after racing together in six of the eight World Cup competitions this season Their 2016-2017 campaign also included a bronze at World Championships.

"It was fascinating to see how they performed together," bobsled coach Sepp Plozza, who presented Greubel Poser and Evans' award to them, said. "As soon as they put their helmets on, they were always one team with the goal to win. There was a lot of confidence and a comfort level that things will go right and their way when they teamed up."

The only rookie on the national team this year, Briauna Jones, was named the Rookie of the Year. Her first season as a push athlete included her first World Cup medal, a gold with Meyers Taylor in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

In an emotional speech, Jones remembered where she was one year ago: Working three jobs without any athletic prospects after failing to make the Rio Olympics as a track athlete.

"I feel honored," she said. "I'm in the presence of so many great athletes and being the only rookie, it's a lot of pressure because I have to be thrown into the fire with the veterans. Now that I'm no longer a rookie, I want to set an example and just continue to get better."

In addition to the coach-selected awards, three athletes were chosen by their teammates to receive Athletes' Choice awards for their dedication to the team and embodiment of the USABS values of teamwork, commitment and integrity. Brent Fogt received the Men's Bobsled Athletes' Choice after getting called up to the national team midseason. For the same reasons, Fogt was also chosen by coaches and staff for the team's MVP award.

"Winning these awards was totally unexpected," Fogt said. "I was very humbled to be a part of the team this season, very grateful, and I look forward to pursuing this next year and being a part of the team again. We have a cameraderie that's unique and different than years prior. I love these guys, love working with them, and I'll do anything it takes to help them succeed."

Brittany Reinbolt capped her first season as a pilot on the national team with the Women's Bobsled Athletes' Choice award. Plozza said Reinbolt's upbeat personality, sense of humor and desire to learn and improve were integral factors in the team's success this year.

"She is special, very humbled," Plozza said. "She has a laugh that you can hear from Curve 1 all the way down to Curve 10 on any given track walk. She has about five most favorite curved in the world and at least three most favorite tracks, but that's just the kind of person she is. Not only did she master all the challenges waiting for her this season ... she did everything she was asked to do. She put the team always first and made the best out of what was given to her."

After a two-year hiatus from the sport, John Daly earned the skeleton Athletes' Choice award for his incredible comeback, team-first mentality and infectious charisma. Daly raced on every circuit this season - including seven races in January alone - to qualify for the World Championships in February.

During his speech, skeleton coach Brian McDonald showed a picture he had taken of Daly after the Sochi Games, facing the track, a look of disappointment on his face. McDonald said that he almost left coaching after 2014, but that this moment with Daly kept him in the sport.

"Luckily, John gets a redo, he gets to hit the reset button," McDonald said. "I think as long as he decides to un-retire and come back, he'll win this award. He brings the same fun, cameraderie and work ethic every day."



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