Bobsled, skeleton season recap
LAKE PLACID — Led by 16 medals from the World Cup women’s bobsled team, USA Bobsled & Skeleton raced to 69 total medals across six tours during the 2016-2017 season.
Led by pilots Elana Meyers Taylor, of Douglasville, Georgia, and Jamie Greubel Poser, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, the women’s bobsled team improved on last season’s nine medals to anchor Team USA’s podium efforts.
Their 16 medals included two at World Championships in Koenigssee, Germany, where Meyers Taylor and Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas) took gold and Greubel Poser and Aja Evans (Chicago, Illinois) finished third. The victory was Meyers Taylor’s second World Championship gold and eighth overall World Championships medal.
Meyers Taylor has earned two silvers and two bronzes, as well as two golds in the team event and has medaled in each of the past five World Championships in at least one discipline.
Meyers Taylor, racing with a combination of Kehri Jones, Lolo Jones and Briauna Jones throughout the season, racked up eight medals — five of which were gold — after crashing in the season-opening race in Whistler, Canada, to finish third in the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) overall standings.
Meanwhile, Greubel Poser put on a dominating performance of her own with Evans and Lauren Gibbs winning the overall women’s bobsled title with eight medals, including the title-clinching gold medal in the final race of the season on the 2018 Olympic track in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Greubel Poser is the second American women’s bobsled pilot to win the overall title in the past three seasons, as Meyers Taylor accomplished the feat in 2014-2015. Since the 2007-2008 season, they are the only two Team USA athletes to win the women’s bobsled title.
Greubel Poser’s first overall title capped a stellar season that saw her medal in every race except one, including two golds. In six of the eight women’s bobsled World Cup races this season, either Meyers Taylor or Greubel Poser topped the podium, and a Team USA crew was on the podium every race.
In her first season as a World Cup pilot, Brittany Reinbolt combined with Gibbs, Lolo Jones and Briauna Jones for three top-10 finishes. Reinbolt also opened the season on the North American Cup (NAC) circuit, where she took bronze on the harrowing Whistler track.
Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) led the World Cup men’s bobsled team with five medals in two-man and four-man competition. Teaming with brakemen Carlo Valdes, Sam McGuffie, Jimmy Reed and Sam Michener throughout the season, Holcomb earned three crystal globes, taking second in the overall two-man standings and third in four-man and combined overall. He just missed a World Championships medal, finishing fifth in four-man with Valdes, Reed and McGuffie.
In his rookie season as a pilot on the World Cup, Olympic gold medalist Justin Olsen broke out at the end of the season with fourth and sixth place finishes in the final two two-man World Cup races of the season and 11th-place finishes in both two-man and four-man at World Championships. Olsen’s brakemen included Evan Weinstock, Austin Landis, Luis Moreira and Michener, who helped the rookie pilot to finish 15th overall in two-man and 19th overall in four-man.
Codie Bascue (Whitehall) fought through a tough season that saw the 22-year-old record three top-10 finishes, two of which were on his home track in Lake Placid. Combining with Adrian Adams, Christopher Kinney, Frank Del Duca, Michener and Moreira, Bascue’s season was highlighted by a fourth-place finish in the Lake Placid four-man race. He finished 17th overall in two-man and 16th in four-man.
In men’s skeleton, Matt Antoine was Team USA’s most consistent performer, recording top-10 finishes in every race and taking two medals in the first two World Cup races of the season. The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist took seventh overall in the IBSF standings.
In his second year on the World Cup circuit, Nathan Crumpton finished in the top 10 twice and finished 11th overall. Teammate and 2014 Olympian Kyle Tress spent most of the season on the World Cup circuit, recording a season-best 14th-place finish in Winterberg, Germany to take 21st overall. Meanwhile, John Daly was called up for World Championships after collecting six medals on the Intercontinental Cup and North American Cup circuits in his comeback season after a two-year hiatus from the sport. Still shaking off the rust and competing for the first time since the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the two-time Olympian finished 17th at World Championships and 15th at the Pyeongchang World Cup race.
Annie O’Shea was Team USA’s top women’s skeleton overall finisher in 10th. O’Shea finished in the top-10 in four World Cup races this season, while teammate Kendall Wesenberg earned the silver medal in St. Moritz, Switzerland and finished 13th overall. After missing the first half of the season with an illness, three-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender recorded two eighth-place finishes in the second half while still recovering, including leading Team USA in the final World Cup race of the season on the 2018 Olympic track in Pyeongchang.
On the Intercontinental Cup Circuit (ICC), Savannah Graybill, who also competed in several World Cup races and in her first World Championships, led Team USA with three medals, including double golds in Lake Placid to close out the ICC season. Megan Henry earned two silvers and a bronze, while on the men’s side, Daly took a gold and a silver to round out Team USA’s ICC medals.
The European Cup saw 18 top-10 finishes from Team USA athletes. Kellie Delka earned the most, posting seven throughout the season and never finishing a race lower than 10th. Mike Rogals, Alex Ivanov and Daly combined for the other 11.
Two-time Olympian Nick Cunningham won the two-man, four-man and overall bobsled titles on the North American Cup circuit after collecting 10 total medals. Cunningham used a wide variety of brakemen during the season to claim his titles, but Nathan Gilsleider and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor were fixtures on his team. Cunningham also competed at World Championships, where he finished 17th in four-man.
On the women’s bobsled side, Nicole Vogt led Team USA’s North American Cup efforts with a gold and two bronze medals and concluded her season with herr first National Championship title. She primarily teamed with Bonnie Kilis during the season while racing with Briauna Jones during National Championships in Lake Placid.
Daly and Gracie Clapp-Taylor earned medals on the North American Cup skeleton tour this season. In his first race since the Sochi Games, Daly took gold in Park City, Utah, then followed this performance with two more golds and a silver in the final four NAC races of the season. Clapp-Taylor, after finishing in the top-five in four of her first six races of the season, broke into the medals in Lake Placid, taking bronze. She rounded out the season with another fourth-place finish following her medal.
The 2016-17 Para Skeleton season was another successful year for two-time defending tour champion Eric Eierdam, who took two golds and a silver in the three-race season. The results propelled Eierdam to his third consecutive overall title. Ryan Gautieri, also had a breakout season, medaling in each race and finishing third in the overall standings.
Team USA collected three medals in Para Bobsled, two of which were won by Barry Schroeder, who took gold and bronze in the Lillehammer, Norway races. Aaron Lanningham was the other medal winner, earning silver in the season-opening Park City race.
USABS athletes concluded their season with National Championships, which took place in Lake Placid over the final two weekends in March. Cunningham and Gilsleider took the men’s bobsled title, while Vogt and Briauna Jones earned the women’s. Antoine and O’Shea claimed their sixth and fourth Skeleton National Championship titles, respectively. National team bobsled athletes did not compete because they were testing equipment for next season.