Elana Meyers, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, Elana Meyers is aiming for another medal at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Only this time, she'll be in the driver's seat.
While most Olympians took a few months off after the games, Meyers opted to return to Lake Placid to begin her career as a bobsled pilot.
After Erin Pac's surprising retirement in November, Meyers was named the USA III pilot based on her America's Cup results.
Elana Meyers, left, and teammate Erin Pac celebrate their bronze-medal finish in the two-man bobsled competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
(AP file photo)
In order to meet the qualifications to compete on World Cup, Meyers flew with push athlete Megan Hill to a Europa Cup race in Winterberg, Germany, where two races in women's bobsled, and one race each in women's and men's skeleton, were held from Dec. 8-12.
Meyers wasn't alone in her adventure overseas. Pac, her 2010 Olympic teammate, elected to help coach her former brakeman, alongside U.S. driving coach Janis Kipurs.
Mike Kohn, a 2002 Olympic medalist, and Shauna Rohbock, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, shared lines and track notes with Meyers before and during her trip. The Latvian team rented Meyers a sled and shared video during training.
At Olympic Sports Complex
in Lake Placid
Women's skeleton heat #1, 9 a.m.
Men's skeleton heat #1, 9:45 a.m
Women's skeleton heat #2, 10:45 a.m.
Men's skeleton heat #2, 11:30 a.m.
Women's bobsled Park City make-up race, 1:30 p.m.
Men's 2-man bobsled, 9 a.m.
Women's bobsled, 1 p.m.
Men's 4-man bobsled, 9 a.m.
$8 adults, $6 junior/children (6-12); senior $6
Free admission with the donation of one non-perishable food item per person to benefit the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry.
"Being able to race in the Europa Cup and get qualified for World Cup has been a tremendous team effort," Meyers said. "Being able to have the extra coaching has been super helpful and I have learned so much in just the short time we've been here."
Meyers and Hill had only a handful of runs to get comfortable on the Winterberg course in a week where weather was variable and challenging. The duo raced to seventh- and eighth-place finishes to complete qualification for the World Cup team.
"Overall I've learned so much about driving," Meyers said. "I think this trip has really helped me grow as a driver. I have so much more to learn, but I look forward to what's next."
In the first competition, the U.S. pair pushed start times of 5.92 and 5.85 seconds for runs of 59.57 and 59.30 seconds, respectively. Meyers and Hill finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 58.87 seconds for seventh place among a field of seasoned pilots.
"As an athlete, you always want to win," Meyers said. "But I am satisfied. Of course, I want to drive better and push faster and finish higher, but a seventh place finish behind all experienced drivers is acceptable."
Meyers was disappointed to drop back one position on the second day of racing. The pair posted consistent times of 59.99 and 59.90 seconds for a total time of 1:59.89 to finish eighth.
"I had a bad race," Meyers said. "I can't make any excuses for this race today, I just didn't drive well. Megan, even with an injured quad, pushed me into a position to contend for the top six, but I drove us out of it. I'm disappointed in my race today, but these things happen in bobsled. If I had to have a bad race I'm glad I got it out of the way before the Lake Placid World Cup."
Meyers returned to Lake Placid last weekend to prepare this weekend's World Cup event.
In her rookie season, Hill helped power Meyers off the starting block in 5.99 and 5.93 seconds to keep the team competitive from start to finish.
"I am so proud of the way Megan pushed," Meyers said. "I put a lot on her this week and she's handled it like a champion. I'm really excited about Megan's potential."
Sabina Hafner from Switzerland dominated the Winterberg event and won double gold with combined times of 1:57.02 and 1:57.38. Germany's Anja Schniederheinze was second both days after sliding total times of 1:57.58 and 1:58.21. Christina Hengster from Austria claimed two bronze medals with two-run totals of 1:57.67 and 1:58.91.
The men's and women's skeleton events took place on Sunday, Dec. 12. In a deep men's skeleton field, Christian Baude from Germany claimed gold by over a half a second on one of his home tracks with a two-run total of 1:56.47. Ed Smith from Great Britain was second with a combined time of 1:57.03, while Canadian Paul Fraser finished third with a total time of 1:57.10.
Adam Moore (Westminster, Colo.) was surprised to see a familiar face at a foreign track this week. His step-dad made an impromptu visit from Basel, Switzerland to cheer on Moore, who is sliding on the European tracks for the first time in his career.
"Today I felt inspired," Moore said. "There is nothing more motivating than to have a little familial support to provide that extra motivation. Additionally, I had a great mentor in Kyle Tress who was great to share lines with and bounce ideas off of."
Tress has been leading the U.S. squad on the Intercontinental Cup tour throughout the season, and has extended his leadership to assist the developing Europa Cup athletes by sharing his expertise.
Moore has struggled with learning a new track in only a few runs week after week, but was close to cracking into the top ten in Winterberg. The rookie athlete posted finish times of 59.69 and 59.14 seconds for a combined time of 1:58.83 to finish 11th.
"I believed in myself," Moore said. "This tour has yielded some results that were less than desirable, but I kept pushing. The great thing about being in a slump is that you're bound to recover. Today was a positive step heading into Altenberg. We're on the final leg of the tour and I'm looking forward to another experience."
The team heads to yet another German track in Altenberg next week before the holiday break.
Brad Stewart (Hastings, MN) had another successful week and finished 15th with a total time of 1:59.26 after clocking runs of 59.81 and 59.45 seconds.
The women's British team once again swept the podium for the third consecutive competition. Laura Deas was victorious in 2:02.31, while teammates Rose McGrandle and Elizabeth Yarnold completed the sweep by claiming silver and bronze in 2:02.62 and 2:02.75, respectively.
Lauri Bausch (Fredonia, Wisc.) continues to show improvement each week in her first competitive season. Bausch slid runs of 1:03.44 and 1:03.04 for a combined time of 2:06.48 to finish 17th.
"I am satisfied that I consistently set a personal record for both push starts and finish times on race days," Bausch said. "I also believe I have been able to have the right mind set in training and competition, which is helping me to get better each week."
Abby Von Kelsh (Park City, Utah) missed the cutoff for a second run after crossing the finish line in 1:04.72 to finish 25th.