Elana Meyers

Elana Meyers, Nic Taylor wed in bobsled-tinged ceremony

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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.”

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At U.S. Open swim meet, teens make a splash with Olympic trials on horizon

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While Olympic and world champions Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Chase Kalisz notched expected victories at the U.S. Open on Thursday, a trio of teenagers lowered personal bests to further establish their Tokyo Olympic hopes.

At the top domestic meet of the winter, Alex WalshCarson Foster and Kieran Smith each earned runner-up finishes, but their performances stood out in the big picture: looking at June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event make the team.

Walsh, a rising Nashville high school senior, took 2.23 seconds off her 200m individual medley best. She clocked 2:09.01, overtaken by .17 by Melanie Margalis, the Rio Olympic and 2019 World Championships fourth-place finisher.

Full meet results are here.

Walsh moved from fifth-fastest in the U.S. this year to No. 2 behind Margalis, passing Olympic and world championships veterans Ella EastinKathleen Baker and Madisyn Cox. Of those swimmers, only Eastin was also in Thursday’s final.

Walsh joined her younger sister, Gretchen, in Olympic qualifying position based on 2019 times. Gretchen, 16, ranks fourth in the U.S. in the 100m free this year. The top six in that event at trials are in line to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool.

The Walshes could become the third set of sisters to make the same U.S. Olympic swim team, and the second to do it in pool swimming after Dana and Tara Kirk in 2004.

Foster, 18, continued his ascent Thursday in taking second to Kalisz in the men’s 200m IM. The world junior champion lowered his personal best in the prelims and the final, getting down to 1:57.59. Foster passed Ryan Lochte, who is nearly twice his age, in Thursday’s final and in the 2019 U.S. rankings. Only Kalisz and Michael Andrew have been faster among Americans this year.

Foster is trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. Foster, who has been breaking Phelps national age-group records since he was 10, committed to the University of Texas in March 2018, two years before he graduates high school in Ohio.

Then there’s Kieran Smith, now a prime candidate to fill a huge void in the 400m freestyle. Zane Grothe is the only American ranked in the top 20 in the world this year.

Smith, a 19-year-old from the University of Florida, took 2.29 seconds off his lifetime best on Thursday to jump from outside the top 10 to No. 2 in the U.S. on the year. Smith was already ranked No. 2 in the country in the 200m free.

Two more runners-up in the 50m freestyles — Erika Brown to Manuel and Zach Apple to Brazilian Bruno Fratus — lowered personal bests to move to No. 3 in each U.S. ranking list this year.

The U.S. Open continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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Nathan Chen distances Yuzuru Hanyu in Grand Prix Final short program

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A brilliant Nathan Chen outscored a flawed Yuzuru Hanyu for a fourth straight head-to-head program, taking a 12.95-point lead at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Chen, the two-time reigning world champion, tallied 110.38 points going into Saturday’s free skate. He landed a quadruple Lutz, triple Axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

It’s the highest short program score in the world this season, leading the American to say “wow” in the kiss-and-cry area. His coach, the often-gruff Rafael Arutyunyan, banged his knee against his pupil’s.

Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, hit a quadruple Salchow and triple Axel but then stepped out of a quad toe landing. He therefore failed to include a required jumping combination and ended up in second place.

“I wanted to do a great performance and do a good competition against [Chen], but that didn’t happen this time,” Hanyu, who was without longtime coach Brian Orser, or any other coach, said through a translator. Hanyu said Orser was busy last week, so he chose to use his lone accreditation on another coach who had travel delays.

Hanyu is not out of title contention. His world-leading free skate score this season is 16.61 points better than Chen’s best free skate from the fall Grand Prix Series.

Chen is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, but this is just his second head-to-head with Hanyu in that span. Chen defeated Hanyu at March’s world championships, where the Japanese megastar was likely affected by an ankle injury.

After Thursday’s program, Chen repeated what he said before the competition: he still feels like he’s chasing Hanyu.

“Yuzu is like the goat, he’s the greatest of all time, really,” Chen said. “So, to have this opportunity to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, someone that I’ve watched grow up through the junior ranks when I was like a baby, it’s really cool to be able see him now. It’s really cool to even just be able to see him person.”

The Grand Prix Final, the biggest annual event outside the world championships, continues Friday with the rhythm dance, women’s short and pairs’ free skate. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier in pairs, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took their first step toward a first Grand Prix Final title. The Olympic silver medalists tallied 77.50, leading Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by .85 going into Friday’s free skate.

Sui and Han were imperfect, with Sui putting her hand down on a throw triple flip landing. They are undefeated in this Beijing Olympic cycle and own the world’s top total score this season.

The U.S. failed to qualify a pair for the six-team Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Grand Prix Final
Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 110.38
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 97.43
3. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 96.71
4. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.78
5. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 81.32
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 80.67

Pairs’ Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 77.50
2. Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 76.65
3. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 75.16
4. Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) — 71.48
5. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 69.67
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) — 67.08

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