USA Bobsled women’s team announced

Bascue, Wilcox dominant in two-man racing

United States driver Kaillie Humphries and Lauren Gibbs push their sled at the start of their first run Dec. 14, 2019 in the women’s World Cup bobsled race at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (News photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — USA Bobsled on Saturday, Nov. 21 announced its 10-athlete roster for the 2020-2021 women’s national team. Athletes competed in two races over the course of two days at Mount Van Hoevenberg to earn their spot on the team.

The men will return to Lake Placid after Thanksgiving to compete in four-man races, and the men’s national team is expected to be announced on Dec. 15.

Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, California) locked in her spot as USA-1 by winning the 2020 World Championships in Altenberg, Germany last season. Returning to the ice after having her son, Nico, Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Georgia) earned her seat at the helm of USA-2. Nicole Vogt (Dallas, Texas) is back in the driver’s seat after having hand surgery last season, and will pilot USA-3.

Humphries and Meyers Taylor are both three-time Olympic medalists. Humphries claimed two golds and a bronze while racing for Team Canada. Meyers Taylor has created a legacy in the U.S. program with two silvers and a bronze. This will be the first season that Humphries and Meyers Taylor will be competing together on Team USA. This is Vogt’s third season competing in World Cup races.

The pool of push athletes selected to the team, in alphabetical order by last name, are: Nicole Brungardt (Norfolk, Nebraska), Colleen Fotsch (Scottsdale, Arizona), Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, California), Sylvia Hoffman (Arlington, Texas), Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Iowa), Lake Kwaza (Sycamore, Illinois), and Emily Renna (Fairport, New York).

This is the first national team for Fotsch and Renna, and the second for Brungardt. Gibbs, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist, secured her spot by winning the world championship title with Humphries last season. This is Hoffman’s third national team nomination. Jones is a 2014 bobsled Olympian and this is her fifth team nomination. Kwaza has four World Cup medals from the 2018-2019 season with Meyers Taylor. She switched to the driver’s seat shortly thereafter, and made a decision to return to pushing this season.

The women’s team will return to Lake Placid with the men after Thanksgiving to continue training and testing.

Women’s racing

On Nov. 21, Humphries teamed with Renna in heat one and Fotsch in heat two to win the second day of women’s bobsled national team trials in a race that came down the hundredths. Meyers Taylor, the winner on Nov. 20, teamed with Kwaza to hold a slim lead of two-hundredths of a second in the first heat, but the duo fell back by one-hundredth to Humphries in the final heat to finish second.

“Today was another great day of racing,” USA Bobsled Head Coach Mike Kohn said on Nov. 21. “I can’t thank the track crew and the Olympic Regional Development Authority enough for working through these challenges and getting us on ice. We also owe a lot to our volunteers Tony Carlino, Ryan Schneider, and Jeff Potter for helping us run the races. Today was really exciting because we had veterans and rookies racing together, and we had some surprises. Even though it’s an unpredictable year, there’s no question that our athletes are hungry and ready to race.”

Renna and Fotsch are both rookie bobsledders. Renna competed in track and field at the University of Rhode Island. Fotsch is a three-time regional Crossfit competitor, and a former collegiate swimmer from the University of California, Berkeley where she was a five-time All-American. Humphries posted the second-best start times of the competition with both athletes; a 5.59 in the first heat with Renna and a 5.63 in run two with Fotsch.

“It’s been nice being a part of the experience for some of the rookies,” Humphries said. “I had the chance to race with four different athletes over four heats, and it’s been a steep learning curve for new athletes like Colleen. Emily and Colleen did a great job today.”

Humphries threaded together a first run time of 55.05 seconds to finish 0.02 seconds behind Meyers Taylor and Kwaza. She rallied back in the second heat to edge her teammates by one-hundredth of a second with a downtime of 55.26 seconds. Humphries, who already has a spot secured on the national team with her 2020 World Championship win, was victorious on Nov. 21 with a time of 1:56.32.

“It’s nice to have Elana back with the team, and having Nicole (Vogt) out again this year after her hand surgery last year,” Humphries said. “Competition is good, it pushes you to be better. These races have been long anticipated, and there have been so many changes this week with delays, but everyone has been able to adapt. That will be the theme of this year.”

Men’s two-man racing

Codie Bascue (Whitehall, New York) teamed with Kyle Wilcox (Tampa, Florida) on Nov. 21 to sweep the men’s two-man selection races, posting the fastest downtimes of 56.44 and 56.98 seconds for a combined time of 1:53.42. The duo finished a distant 0.52 seconds ahead of the field.

Hunter Church (Cadyville, New York) and Kris Horn (Pembroke, Massachusetts) clocked a two-run total of 1:53.94 to finish second today after clocking runs of 56.84 and 57.10 seconds.

Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine), an emerging pilot in the program, put some heat on Bascue and Church. Teamed with Dakota Lynch (Boise, Idaho), Del Duca posted the third and second fastest times of the race to finish third in 1:53.96.

Geoff Gadbois (Milton, Vermont) and Nic Taylor (Hayward, California) finished fourth with a total time of 1:54.10. Sam Moeller (San Antonio, Texas) once again posted the fastest start times of the competition (5.11 and 5.14 seconds), this time with Charlie Volker (Fairhaven, New Jersey). Tyler Hickey (Geneva, Illinois) and Jamil Muhammed-Ray (Charlotte, North Carolina) were sixth with a two-run total of 1:54.85.