Elana Meyers

Elana Meyers, Nic Taylor wed in bobsled-tinged ceremony

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Elana Meyers and Nic Taylor met through bobsled in 2011 and began dating. Taylor proposed to Meyers at the medal podium of the 2013 World Championships. Their wedding last week didn’t pass without references to the sport, either.

“When they gave their personal vows, a lot of the audience probably didn’t understand,” said Olympic teammate Jazmine Fenlator, one of about 75 people at the Douglasville, Ga., gathering Thursday. “It was a lot of bobsled and training innuendos. You know, I’ll stand with you whenever you’re gluten-free and dairy-free, which is the nutrition plan when we’re in season.”

Fenlator remembered them saying at the end, “Now let’s go have some fun,” and gave each other high-fives, just as Meyers does at the start line with her brakemen before her bobsled heats.

Meyers, a two-time Olympic medalist, and Taylor, a former U.S. Bobsled athlete, began life as a married couple by traveling to Washington and then New York. First, Meyers had her college softball No. 24 jersey retired by George Washington on Sunday. They flew to New York for Right To Play’s Big Red Ball on Wall Street on Tuesday night.

“The whole goal of the wedding was to get [Taylor] to cry,” Meyers said at the Right to Play gala. “He didn’t cry. He was too excited.”

“I was close the entire time, but I was so happy,” Taylor said. “It was the most fun I have ever had. Although I was a little choked up, never got around to crying, which I’m pretty excited about.”

Wedding guests included current and retired bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Shelley-Ann Brown of Canada and former Night Train member Steve Mesler in addition to Fenlator.

Humphries is the two-time reigning Olympic champion and Meyers’ chief competition. Humphries beat Meyers by one point for the World Cup title last season and then overtook Meyers on the fourth and final run in Sochi for gold.

Yet they remain friends and training partners and kept their pre-Olympic pact to see each other again at Meyers’ wedding. Meyers joked about people marveling at Humphries at the ceremony last week.

“Everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a gold medalist,'” she said, smiling. “I was like, what am I, chopped liver at my own wedding? We’re great friends. It was awesome to have her there and awesome to feed her some cake.”

source: AP
Nic Taylor proposes to Elana Meyers at the 2013 World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. (AP)

One of their favorite gifts came from Meyers’ Olympic brakewoman, Lauryn Williams, who could not make it to the wedding because she was in Rome (Italy, not Georgia).

“She sent us the most amazing blender in the world,” Taylor said.

Though Williams has said her competitive career is all but done, Meyers still hopes to convince her to come back next season.

“I think I can get one more year out of her,” Meyers said. “I think another four is a stretch, but I’m going to try everything I can.”

Meyers and Taylor’s first dance was to Justin Timberlake‘s “That Girl.” Taylor walked out to John Legend‘s “All of Me.” Meyers walked out to Bruno Mars‘ “Marry You.”

They donated to charities for each other as wedding gifts. Meyers gave to the International Humane Society, part of a running joke between the couple about Taylor wanting to adopt Sochi stray dogs. Taylor gave to Right to Play.

What’s next for the married couple? Meyers trains and Taylor coaches at the World Athletics Center in Arizona. Meyers has been testing her skills in the new Olympic sport of rugby sevens. She was on the U.S. team that traveled to China earlier this month.

“It was an experience, to say the least,” Meyers said. “I’m definitely not used to that level of cardio. It was different because it was a whole different side of international sport that I’m not accustomed to. It was interesting to see into their world, see what they go through and see what it’s like on a team sports level.”

She hopes to be named to the team for a tournament in Amsterdam in May, but come next fall, bobsled will again be the focus. She’s not ruling out a bid for the 2016 Olympics, but the fact that the primary rugby season runs concurrent with bobsled in the winter doesn’t help.

“When we first started, it was like, oh yeah, we could do this in the Olympics, but I didn’t realize how much the seasons overlap,” Meyers said. “I thought rugby was a summer sport.”

Taylor and Meyers first interacted over a phone call in 2011, as told by USA Today in a story last year.

Taylor had been a track athlete at Cal State Northridge and a decathlon coach at UCLA when he decided to give bobsled a try in 2011. After he lost some paperwork, he called the sport’s national governing body with questions. Meyers, who was interning with the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, answered the phone.

“I ended up staying on the phone with her for the rest of the day. It was the strangest thing,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t sure what she looked like or who she was at all.”

He said he knew he wanted to marry Meyers “the first time I talked to her.” That level of excitement was apparent at the wedding.

“Nic’s face when Elana turned the corner to walk out,” Fenlator said. “He was so antsy. He kept going forward, and the priest is like, ‘Nic, hold on, her dad has to give her away. Just wait, one second.’ You could tell at the moment, he felt like, I’ve lived. This is it.”

Sochi getting hockey team in world’s second strongest league

Vic Wild finds much different welcome at PyeongChang

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — It was a feel-good love story about snowboarders that made Russia smile.

Four years later, Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina are still married and still riding.

But boy did this get complicated.

Wild, the American-born rider who now competes for Russia, finished out of the medals, same as his wife, at the parallel giant slalom Saturday, closing a sad chapter to a journey that began as a fairy tale but turned into a drama about cheating, doping and figuring out who was to blame.

It was a small part of a much larger story about the strained, scandal-tainted relationship between Russia, the Olympics and the rest of the world.

“For 18 months, the IOC never told me anything,” Wild said after losing in the round-of-16 in a contest taken by Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini. “No one would tell me if, somehow, some way, I was involved. That definitely put some gray hairs on my head.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com

How Arianna Fontana quietly skated into short track history

Arianna Fontana
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arianna Fontana is silently one of the greatest short track skaters in Olympic history.

Her numbers at the Games speak for themselves; one gold, two silver, and five bronze. Those eight total medals make her the most decorated female short track skater by two medals, and tie her with legends Apolo Ohno and Viktor Ahn for most Olympic medals ever won by a short track skater.

But it is her numbers outside the Olympic stage that really call attention to her Olympic success. She is a 14-time world medalist, which is no small feat, but her podium appearances are spread over a 12-year competitive career. Someone like Elise Christie, for example, has won 12 world championships medals in just five years. And also unlike Christie, Fontana has never won an overall title.

But Christie struggled on the sport’s biggest stage in both Sochi and PyeongChang, and has yet to win her first Olympic medal. Fontana, on the other hand, has become such a consistent podium presence over the last two Games that she almost makes it look easy.

Before retiring from competition, Ohno won 21 world medals, eight of them gold. Ahn, still competing but not one of the athletes invited to competed at the PyeongChang Olympics as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, has to date has won 35 world medals, 20 of which were gold.

Fontana does not come from a short track power like South Korea or China, perhaps another reason why she is not more notorious.

Most of her medals are bronze, which could be used as a strike against her, but just ask Lindsey Vonn how hard she worked to get hers this year.

Fontana’s first medal came at the 2006 Torino Olympics, when she helped the Italian women to bronze in the 3000m relay at just 15 years old. Fontana earned her first individual medal, a bronze in the 500m, four years later in Vancouver.

But in Sochi, she exploded, making the podium in three out of four events: the 500m, where she won silver, and the 1500m and 3000m relay, where she picked up two more bronzes.

“I thought I was going to win a gold medal in Sochi but I still don’t have that,” Fontana said to the ISU in early 2017. “That’s there up in my mind and sometimes it comes out and says, ‘Hey, you still miss me? So come get me!'”.

But after the 2014-15 season, Fontana’s desire for gold was eclipsed by something else: burnout.

“I was pretty tired mentally. My body was ready to race again but my mind was not. It was hard for me. After the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, I had some doubts about whether to keep skating or not,” Fontana said to the ISU. “Maybe it would have been better to take that year right after the Olympic Games off, but I decided to keep going. It is not that I regret it, but I had some hard times that season.”

She stayed active during her time off, learning how to box, which eased the transition back to skating.

Her pursuit for gold was what motivated her comeback, and in 2018 Fontana got what she came back for.

“When I saw I was first, I was just yelling and started crying. I worked for four years and the last four months were really hard for me. I was really focused on getting here in the best shape ever,” Fontana said after earning the 500m Olympic title.

“I was chasing it and finally I got it.”

In addition to her 500m gold medal, Fontana also added a 1000m bronze and 3000m relay bronze.

Fontana has spoken about retirement, but has not made a definitive decision. She will only be 31 years old by the time 2022 rolls around, so she could feasibly add to her medal haul if she competes. What she has made clear is that when she does leave the sport she hopes to become a personal trainer.

Whenever she does retire Fontana should be considered not only one of the greatest Italian athletes or greatest short track skaters, but also one of the greatest Winter Olympians.