USA Bobsled National Push Championships to begin Thursday
26 Jul, 2017
With the Olympic Games on the horizon, USA Bobsled & Skeleton is back on ice this week for the first official competition of the 2017-2018 season. The USA Bobsled National Push Championships will take place July 27-30 in the Indoor Ice House in Calgary, Alberta.
"This competition gives the push athletes the chance to showcase their individual talents to the pilots and the selection committee," said USA Bobsled Head Coach Brian Shimer. "We came into this Olympic quad with primarily rookies for push athletes and now they are really starting to realize their potential on the ice. We expect to see big improvements and gains from these athletes, which is exciting. We also have some veterans returning to make a run for another Olympic Games, which heightens the excitement going into this week. It's kind of a perfect storm coming together as the rookies mature and the veterans see if they still have what it takes to make the team."
The full schedule, with times listed in EST in parenthesis, is below:
Thursday, July 27
10 a.m. (12 p.m. EST): Men's push athletes
2 p.m. (4 p.m. EST): Women's push athletes
Friday July 28
3 p.m. (5 p.m. EST): Men's and women's drivers
Saturday, July 29
9 a.m. (11 a.m. EST): Men's combinations
4:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. EST): Women's combinations
The push competition will feature a mix of returning national team members, new athletes and previously retired athletes returning for another shot at Olympic glory. For push athletes, USA Bobsled Push Championships are one of the determining factors for National Team selection in October.
Women's push athletes will push twice from the brakes with the option for a third heat, while the men's athletes will push once from the brakes, once from either side, and have an optional third heat from any position. The lowest combined time from their best brake push and best side push will determine the winner for the men, and the athlete with the best two times combined from the brakes will be declared the women's champion.
"We are so deep in talent, it's going to be a big problem for the selection committee when it comes time to name teams," Shimer said. "If I'm going to have any problem in the world, I'd rather have too much talent than too little. It's going to be another exciting year, and as a coach, I can't wait to see what the athletes bring this week."
On the women's side, last year's top-two push athletes at Push Championships, Aja Evans (Chicago, Ill.) and Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas), return to the field. Evans, who won the women's bobsled overall World Cup with pilot Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.) last season, is seeking her second Olympic berth, while Jones, a second-year National Team member last season, won her first World Championship title with Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.). Greubel Poser and Meyers Taylor also will be pushing in the driver's push competition.
The rest of the women's national team, which nabbed 14 World Cup medals and two World Championship medals last season, will compete as well. Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, Calif.), Briauna Jones (Charlotte, N.C.), Lolo Jones (Des Moines, Texas) and Cherrelle Garrett (Hayward, Calif.) all return to the ice for the women's team, as does pilot Brittany Reinbolt (Searcy, Ark.), who is currently ranked ninth in the world among drivers.
Every push athlete on last year's men's bobsled National Team made the trip up to Calgary and is set to compete in USA Bobsled Push Championships. Thirteen of the top 15 athletes at last year's championships return, including runner-up Evan Weinstock (Las Vegas, Nev.) and third-place finisher Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), who were separated by just .01 seconds in last year's competition. They will be joined by the rest of their World Cup teammates, as well as Olympic medalists Steven Langton (Melrose, Mass.) and Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah), who return to the sport following a three-year hiatus. Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.), Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) will look to retain the top-three driver's positions for Team USA.
Push Championships will begin at 10 a.m. MST (noon EST) on July 27, and will be live-streamed here.
"These athletes have been pushing themselves hard with very little downtime this offseason," Shimer said. "We are coming off the longest season in history since I've been involved in the sports. Despite the short turnaround, holding push championships this early allows the athletes more time to train and push together so that they are competitive when it's time to to step on the ice against the Germans and Russians."
About USA Bobsled & Skeleton: USA Bobsled & Skeleton, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Thorne, Boomerang Carnets, Classroom Champions, Aspen Institute's Project Play, Tesa Tape, Hudl Technique, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Stress Engineering, Machintek, deBotech, Carpenter and PVS International. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com.