Wednesday, August 10, 2022

More bobsled gold for Germany, Canada’s de Bruin finishes fifth

BEIJING ( Associated Press) — Laura Nolte and Mariama Jamanka added to Germany’s record haul of Olympic medals.

Elana Meyers Taylor extended her medal record, too.

The German sliding domination of the Beijing Games continued Saturday, with Nolte driving to gold and Jamanka winning the silver in the women’s bobsled competition — and Meyers Taylor, in possibly her last race, grabbed the bronze for the fifth medal of her Olympic career.

That’s more than any Black athlete in Winter Olympic history, the most by any women’s bobsledder at the Olympics and two more than any other Olympic bobsledder, male or female, has won for the United States.

Nolte and Deborah Levi won with ease, finishing four runs in 4 minutes, 3.96 seconds. Jamanka, the 2018 Olympic champion, and Alexandra Burghardt were second in 4:04.73. Meyers Taylor and Olympic rookie Sylvia Hoffman were third in 4:05.48.

Meyers Taylor smacked the top of her sled in celebration as she crossed the line knowing that the medal was clinched, hopped out and gave Hoffman a hug before throwing her fists into the air.

Canada’s Christine de Bruin and brakewoman Kristen Bujnowski, who entered the final heats in fourth place, dropped one spot to fifth with a time of 4:06.37.

Fellow Canadians Cynthia Appiah and Dawn Richardson Wilson finished eighth at 4:07.52 despite flipping their sled on the final corner of their third run and crossing the finish on their side.

Neither slider was seriously injured.

“I know that crash looked a lot worse than it was. I was more upset that the crash happened than anything. Got a little bit of a shoulder bruise, but all things considered it could have been worse and I’m glad that’s the worst of it,” said Appiah. “No one has ever crashed in that spot, and I hate that that’s now under my belt.”

Before the Canadian crash, nearly all of the sliding mishaps at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, nicknamed the “Flying Snow Dragon,” had occurred at corner 13, which is considered the track’s most treacherous spot.

“I was looking forward to corner 16, and it flipped me up and put me over and I’ve never had that. I don’t think anyone has done that in the training runs that we’ve had this period, and in October. Caught by surprise, definitely,” said Appiah.

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A third Canadian team of pilot Melissa Lotholz and Sara Villani finished 12th.

There wasn’t any real drama at the end: Nolte went into the final heat nearly eight-tenths of a second clear of Jamanka, who was about four-tenths clear of Meyers Taylor, who was seven-tenths clear of Canada’s de Bruin.

All that was undecided at that point was the final margins between the medalists.

Germany’s Kim Kalicki moved up to fourth in 4:06.28, de Bruin was fifth in 4:06.37, Switzerland’s Melanie Hasler drove to sixth in 4:06.83 and the US team of monobob gold medalist Kaillie Humphries — battling a right leg injury that adversely impacted her start times — and Olympic rookie Kaysha Love fell to seventh in 4:07.04.

“It hurts, I won’t lie,” Humphries said. “I gave every ounce of everything I had to the last two days and it wasn’t there. I’m proud of the work that we put in and what we put into it. It sucks and it’s infuriating to know that it wasn’t good enough, but at the end of the day, that’s racing. We can’t be fearful of not being the best. Both Kaysha and I had giant targets on our back coming in and I’m so proud of what we did together.”

Germany now has eight golds — in nine events — and 14 medals overall in the three sliding sports at the Beijing Olympics. The Germans will likely add to that on the final day in Beijing, since they have the top two sleds at the midpoint of the four-man competition that will end Sunday. They already have more golds, and more medals, in sliding events than any nation ever has at any Olympics.

What the Germans have done at these Olympics is historic.

And what Meyers Taylor has done at the last four Olympics is also historic.

She’s now one of only four bobsledders ever to compete in at least five Olympic races and medal in all of them. She became the fifth American bobsledder to win two medals in a single Olympics — pilot Stan Benham and pusher Pat Martin did it in 1952, pilot Steven Holcomb and pusher Steve Langton did it in 2014. And, thanks to women having two events at the Olympics For the first time this year, she’s going to forever be the first female bobsledder to win two medals at the same Games.

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Meyers Taylor’s totals, including her Olympic debut as a push athlete: three silvers, two bronzes. The Beijing medals were a silver behind Humphries in monobob, and now this bronze.

“She’s already a legend in the sport,” US men’s push athlete Carlo Valdes said. “Another medal just adds to all the accolades, really. … She’s in a league of her own and it’s cool to watch.”

Barring some massive comeback by Hunter Church or Frank DelDuca in the four-man race that ends Sunday, USA Bobsled will end the Beijing Games with three medals. The Americans won four in bobsled at the 1932 and 2014 Games; they also won three in 1948 and 2002.

“For us to have three medals in this Olympics, that’s a grand slam considering where we’re coming from with Kaillie’s citizenship and Elana having COVID two weeks ago,” US bobsled coach Mike Kohn said.

Indeed, this road was far from an easy one for the Americans.

Humphries, who competed for Canada until 2021, didn’t even know until December, when she obtained citizenship, that she would be able to compete in Beijing. And Meyers Taylor was in isolation when the Olympics started after testing positive for the coronavirus, meaning she had to give up her role as one of the two US flagbearers at the opening ceremony.

She’ll carry the US flag into the closing ceremony on Sunday. After two weeks of driving fast, a nice slow walk might be the perfect way to transition into whatever comes next.

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With files from The Canadian Press

More Associated Press Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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