Olympic women’s bobsled gold and silver medalists Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor placed sixth and seventh out of 11 sleds in the first international mixed-gender four-man bobsled race Saturday.
The Canadian Humphries and American Meyers Taylor competed in a lower-level North American Cup race in Park City, Utah. Four-man bobsled was declared gender neutral by the International Bobsled Federation starting this season.
U.S. Olympian Nick Cunningham won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 37.57 seconds. Humphries was .84 behind. Meyers Taylor was .88 behind. (full results here)
Humphries and Meyers Taylor were slower than 2010 Olympic champion Steven Holcomb (second place) and the other U.S. sled driven by Codie Bascue (fourth place). (Meyers Taylor had beaten Bascue at U.S. selection races last weekend)
“Not the drive I wanted, but proud of my guys,” was posted on Meyers Taylor’s Twitter account after the race.
Humphries and Meyers Taylor, driving with three men’s push athletes each, beat four bobsleds that had men’s drivers. One of those four men’s sleds was piloted by a Sochi Olympic driver, Brazilian Edson Bindilatti. Bindilatti, 35, finished 29th out of 30 sleds in Sochi and was part of four-man sleds at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics with a best finish of 25th.
The last three men’s sleds were piloted by Canadians with no Olympic driving experience.
Humphries and Meyers Taylor are hoping to compete in four-man bobsled in the top-level World Cup circuit, beginning in December in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Two-time Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor will debut as a driver in four-man bobsled races next month with her husband as one of the three push athletes, according to The Associated Press.
Women are allowed to compete in four-man bobsled for the first time this season, and Meyers Taylor is wasting no time. She will drive in U.S. team selection races in Park City, Utah, in November, after which teams are named for the international bobsled season that begins later in the fall.
Meyers Taylor’s three push athletes for her debut will all be men — Dustin Greenwood, Adrian Adams and her husband, Nic Taylor — according to the AP.
Taylor was a push athlete on the USA-3 four-man sled at the 2013 World Championships.
Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada has also said she wants to drive a four-man bobsled this season. Meyers Taylor and Humphries must beat out men’s drivers to be selected for one of their nation’s spots in international races.
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.”
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.
“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 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.”