Greubel Poser’s Korean connection
Jamie Greubel Poser still remembers the moment South Korea was chosen to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist was in the sports medicine room at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. She, along with several teammates and staff members, was watching the television mounted high on the wall, as the NBC announcers counted down to the announcement of the 2018 host city.
“I can still picture that moment,” Greubel Poser said. “When they named it and said it was going to be in South Korea, I just kind of knew that, for me, it was meant to be. I knew that I had to do everything I could to earn a spot on the Olympic team.”
That was in 2011. Greubel Poser hadn’t yet qualified for Sochi, hadn’t won her medal. She wasn’t the reigning women’s bobsled overall World Cup champion — in fact, she had just barely begun her career as a pilot after switching over from pushing.
Yet she knew that in 2018, she had to be on the team. Not just for herself and her athletic career, but, more importantly, for her family.
In 2000, the Greubel family adopted a baby girl, Elizabeth, from South Korea. After months of intensive adoption processes, which ranged from background checks to home visits to interviewing friends of the family, the Greubels finally met Elizabeth and took her home.
“I remember the whole process, it was actually the reason I got my first passport,” Greubel Poser said. “It’s a pretty in-depth process. They finally matched us with her, and I remember getting the pictures and being really excited to have another addition to our family.”
That is what makes Greubel Poser’s path to Pyeongchang so special. The thought of bringing her sister back to Korea for the first time since she was born, Greubel Poser said, has kept her going in the four years since the Sochi Games.
Accompanying Greubel Poser to the Games would not only be Elizabeth’s first time back in South Korea, it would be the first time she has seen her elder sister compete in bobsled. Elizabeth, now 17, is involved in music and other activities at her high school, which makes it difficult to travel to Lake Placid or other tracks during the winter.
“This would be a really special moment for my whole family because it would be the first time my brother and sister have seen me compete,” Greubel Poser said. “Because of the age difference, where my sister and brother are in high school and college, they’re involved in their own activities … it’s hard for them to get away in the middle of the winter.”
Should Greubel Poser make the Olympic team come February — she has a “bye” onto the national team this year due to her overall ranking — it would also be the first time the rest of her family has been to Korea. When they adopted Elizabeth, they met her for the first time at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Greubel Poser remembers waiting at the gate while a couple deplaned with Elizabeth. Her parents and two brothers have not yet traveled to Korea.
Greubel Poser has, though. The 2016-17 USA Bobsled & Skeleton National Team traveled to Korea in March for the Pyeongchang test event, which also served as the final World Cup race of the season. Greubel Poser won the race with push athlete Aja Evans, cementing her overall World Cup title, one of the major highlights of her star-studded career.
The success on the South Korea track meant the world to Greubel Poser, not just because it was her first World Cup title, but also because she was constantly reminded of her sister during the two-week trip.
“It was definitely very emotional,” she said. “It was really surreal for me to be there, walking around and seeing everyone there and thinking that one of these people could’ve been my sister or someone who’s related to her.
“I love my sister so much and she means so much to me and my family. It’s really hard to explain, but it definitely meant a lot to me to be there, compete there, and do well there. I want to go back and compete for her.”
If everything goes as planned, Greubel Poser will be back in South Korea in February, this time with her sister and family, and, she hopes, atop the Olympic podium.
“This is such a special connection, one that I never thought I’d have in my sport career,” she said. “To be able to connect my sport with my family is why this is really special.”
Kristen Gowdy, USABS Media and Marketing Assistant, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-722-0522.