Gold the only goal at PyeongChang 2018
A bronze medallist as a brakewoman in the two-woman bobsleigh at Vancouver 2010 and a silver medallist in the same event at Sochi 2014, USA driver Elana Meyers Taylor has since won back-to-back world titles and will be among the favourites for gold when she steps out at the Alpensia Sliding Centre at PyeongChang 2018.
So near yet so farThe Sochi 2014 two-woman bobsleigh competition saw Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse leave it very late in defending the title they had won four years earlier in Vancouver, the Canadians clinching a second consecutive gold with their very last descent. In doing so, the defending champions dashed the hopes of their American counterparts, Elana Meyers and former Olympic and world sprint champion Lauryn Williams, who had led the competition from the opening run – when they set a new track record of 57.26.
Meyers and Williams also went quickest in the second run (57.63), and held a lead of 0.11 seconds over the Canadians heading into the fourth and final descent. That advantage vanished, however, as Humphries and Moyse clung on to their title, leaving Meyers to collect a silver to go with the bronze she had won as a brakewoman to Erin Pac at Vancouver 2010.
“It hurts a little bit. But at the end of the day I’m super relieved with this medal,” Meyers said at the time. “I have to deal with this to go back and train even harder for PyeongChang.” And that is exactly what the determined 32-year-old has been doing in the lead-up to the next Olympic Winter Games.
A passion for her sportMeyers took up bobsleigh in 2007, having earlier excelled in softball in her college years, and also earned two rugby sevens caps for her country. She found her calling on ice, however, and threw all her energies into her new sport.
A powerful athlete measuring 1.73m tall and weighing 79kg, Meyers started out as a brakewoman, winning a silver with Shauna Rohbock at the 2009 FIBT World Championships and then going on to collect that Olympic bronze with Pac a year later.
She turned to driving after the Vancouver Games, and, with Katie Eberling behind her, secured a world championship silver in Humphries’ wake in 2013. Then came that incredible denouement at Sochi 2014, which was followed a few weeks later by her marriage to former U.S. bobsleigh team-mate-turned-coach Nicholas Taylor.
A first for USA women’s bobsleighingThe newlywed Meyers Taylor then enjoyed sustained World Cup and world championship success with a series of partners behind her. As well as topping the 2014/15 ISBF World Cup standings, she won the two-woman bob world title with Cherelle Garrett at Winterberg (GER) in February 2015, edging three German crews to become the first American woman to win gold in the event.
A repeat successThat world title triumph was just the start for Meyers Taylor, who proved unstoppable during the 2016/17 season. That year she had not one, not two but three different athletes by the name of Jones pushing her at various times of the campaign: Briauna, Kehri, and former track and field star Lolo.
It was with Kehri Jones that the USA driver retained her world title in Königsee (GER) in February 2017, beating Humphries by 0.03 seconds over the four runs. In collecting a medal at a fifth consecutive world championships, Meyers Taylor also scored a fifth straight career victory, having won four World Cup events on the bounce from mid-January.
PyeongChang dreamsIn looking back on her career to date, Meyers Taylor said winning bronze at Vancouver 2010 was her proudest moment: “My first Games and my first medal – it’s something I’ll never be able to repeat.”
The silver that followed in Sochi is a major source of motivation, however, as she bids to go one better at PyeongChang 2018. Mayers Taylor knows exactly what she has to do to make that happen, and will be drawing on her tried and trusted recipe for success: “Find your passion, set a goal, go to work, evaluate, reassess and repeat”.
It is a recipe that has allowed her to fix the greatest prize of all in her sights. Meyers Taylor has yet to choose her brakewoman for her assault on gold at PyeongChang 2018, with several candidates in the running. One thing is for sure, whoever gets the nod: the American driver is more than ready to make her long-cherished Olympic dream a golden reality.