U.S. bobsled team goes well beyond Lolo
Several nations have a real chance at winning a bobsled medal at the Sochi Games. The U.S. is one of those countries, with Steven Holcomb — who ended a 62-year gold medal drought in the four-man at the Vancouver Games — looking to defend his title while driving the "Night Train Squared" (the new version of the team's sled) in Sochi. And Elana Meyers, who won bronze as Erin Pac’s brakeman in Vancouver, will attempt to reach the podium as a pilot in 2014. Holcomb won both the two-man and the four-man 2012 world titles on the Lake Placid track but only placed third in the four-man at the 2013 World Championships. Meyers shattered several start records last season on her way to three World Cup podiums and a silver medal at 2013 Worlds. This bodes well for her chances in Sochi, where she finished second at the test event on what is widely believed to be a “starter’s track.”
Most U.S. bobsled headlines last season were about the notable track athletes that had been recruited for the women’s team, including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Tianna Madison and Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones. Jones, who finished second in her first ever bobsled World Cup in November 2012 while paired with pilot Jazmine Fenlator, proved that she is dedicated to the winter sport by cutting her 2013 track and field season short. She was fifth at the U.S. national push championships in July, meaning she'll have to improve to be one of the three push athletes selected for the Olympic team.
At the Sochi Games, Russia will look to capitalize on its home track advantage with two-time medalist Aleksandr Zoubkov, who will be 39 years old at the Olympics. He briefly retired after the 2010 Games, but decided to return for one last shot at Olympic glory. Zoubkov, who competed in luge at the 1998 Olympics before switching to bobsled, finished first in the four-man overall World Cup standings last season.
Germany will also send several medal-contending sleds to the Sochi Games, though it remains to be seen which athletes will fill those sleds. On the men’s side, there is a mix of veterans and newcomers, with four pilots reaching the World Cup podium last season, but only three will go to the Games. Vancouver two-man silver medalist Thomas Florschuetz missed the first few World Cup races but finished the season with silver medals in both the two-man and four-man at the Sochi World Cup. Maximilian Arndt was looking like the nation’s top contender after winning the 2013 four-man world title, but he missed the last World Cup of the season due to injury. The youngest of the German contenders is 23-year-old Francesco Friedrich, who won the 2013 two-man world title.
The German women also have three consistent medal contenders with Sandra Kiriasis, Cathleen Martini, and Anja Schneiderheinze, who finished 2-3-4 in last season’s World Cup standings. Kiriasis is a two-time Olympic medalist and Torino Olympic champion, who at age 38 is still one of the best pilots in the world. Schneiderheinze won her Olympic medal in 2006 as Kiriasis’ brakeman, but will look to win as a driver in Sochi. Cathleen Martini was the 2011 world champion but crashed out of the Vancouver Games the year prior in her Olympic debut.
The gold medal favorite in the women’s competition is Canada’s Kaillie Humphries, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time reigning world champion. In Sochi, she’ll look to become the first woman to defend an Olympic bobsled title. Her compatriot Lyndon Rush, who won the four-man bronze medal at the Vancouver Games, will also be a contender in 2014 in the two-man.
Latvia could win its first Olympic bobsled medals in Sochi, with pilot Oskars Melbardis surprising the incumbent nations during the 2012-13 season by winning the men’s combined World Cup title and the four-man World Cup race in Sochi.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Team USA's gold medal run in bobsled
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