Three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor notched her first international bobsled victory since becoming a mom, winning the new Olympic event of monobob on the first weekend of the World Cup season in Igls, Austria.
Meyers Taylor, who took silver or bronze in two-woman bobsled at the last three Olympics, prevailed by .13 of a second over world champion Kaillie Humphries combining times from two runs on Saturday. German Laura Nolte took bronze.
“For me, monobob is still a learning process,” Meyers Taylor said of her first victory in the event that is driver-only with no brakewoman. “All of our brakemen helped with sled preparations so that we are prepared for both monobob and two-man, so it’s a team effort.”
Meyers Taylor, 37, had son Nico in her native Georgia while her peers were between the third and fourth heats of the 2020 World Championships in Germany. Meyers Taylor, who took the entire 2019-20 season off, was in labor for two days, induced three weeks early, before undergoing an emergency C-section.
On Nico’s birthday, Feb. 22, doctors told the Taylors they suspected he had Down syndrome. Two days later, Meyers Taylor was in the neonatal intensive care unit — Nico spent his first eight days there — when it was confirmed. Nico also had profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and has since worn hearing aids.
“From the moment we laid eyes on him, of course we fell in love with him,” Meyers Taylor said last winter. “It didn’t even matter what diagnosis he had.”
She returned to competition last January. She returned to the podium in her third race back and finished second or third in five consecutive monobob or two-woman races to finish the World Cup season, holding Nico on the awards stand.
Meyers Taylor had lobbied for four-woman bobsled to be added to the Olympic program for 2022, but officials preferred monobob, choosing the latter in July 2018.
“To be fair, this is historic in that it adds another discipline for women’s bobsled and that should be celebrated,” Meyers Taylor wrote to fans and friends in a Facebook message in 2018. “Personally it’s a discipline that weighs heavily in my favor as I am one of the fastest pushing pilots in the world. However, I would be remiss if I did not express my disappointment as myself and many others have been laying the groundwork for 4woman. We will keep fighting.”
While the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation lobbied for four-woman, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said in 2018 that the IBSF was “very supportive” of monobob, in part because it was already on the Youth Olympic program.
“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” McConnell said when monobob was added. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”
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