Laura Nolte and Mariama Jamanka added to Germany’s Olympic medal record.
Elana Meyers Taylor also extended her medal record.
Germany’s slippery dominance of the Beijing Games continued on Saturday, with Nolte leading to gold and Jamanka winning silver in the women’s bobsleigh competition – and Meyers Taylor, possibly in her final race, clinched bronze for the fifth medal of his Olympic career.
That’s more than any black athlete in Winter Olympics history, the most female bobsledders 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 points 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 hit the top of her sled in celebration as she crossed the line knowing the medal was won, jumped up and hugged Hoffman before throwing her fists in the air.
Canada’s Christine de Bruin and brakeman Kristen Bujnowski, who entered the final heats in fourth place, fell one spot to fifth with a time of 4:06.37.
Fellow Canadians Cynthia Appiah and Dawn Richardson Wilson finished eighth in 4:07.52 despite their sled rolling over on the final turn of their third run and crossing the finish line on their side.
None of the gliders were seriously injured.
“I know that accident looked a lot worse than it was. I was more upset that the accident happened than anything else. I had a little bruise on my shoulder, but all things considered, it could have been worse and I’m glad it was the worst,” Appiah said. “No one has ever crashed there, and I hate that it’s now under my belt.
Prior to the Canadian crash, nearly all sliding accidents at the Yanqing National Sliding Center, nicknamed the “Flying Snow Dragon”, had occurred at Turn 13, which is considered the most dangerous place on the track.
“I was looking forward to turn 16, and it turned me around and put me on top of it and I never had that. I don’t think anyone did that in the practice we had that period, and in Oct. Taken by surprise, definitely,” Appiah said.
A third Canadian team of drivers Melissa Lotholz and Sara Villani finished 12th.
There was no real drama at the end: Nolte entered the final heat almost eight tenths of a second ahead of Jamanka, who was about four tenths ahead of Meyers Taylor, who was at seven tenths ahead of de Bruin of Canada.
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 was sixth in 4:06.83 and the US monobob gold medalist team Kaillie Humphries – struggling with a right leg injury which negatively impacted her starting 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 in the last two days and it wasn’t there. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and what we’ve invested in it. It sucks and it’s infuriating to know it wasn’t good enough, but at the end of the day, it’s racing. We can’t be afraid that we won’t be the best. Kaysha and I had giant targets on the back and I’m so proud of what we’ve done together.
Germany now has eight gold medals – in nine events – and 14 medals overall in all three board sports at the Beijing Olympics. The Germans will likely add to that on the final day in Beijing, as they have the two best sleds halfway through the four-man competition which ends on Sunday. They already have more gold medals and more medals in sliding events than any nation has ever had at any Olympics.
What the Germans did at these Olympics is historic.
And what Meyers Taylor has done in the last four Olympics is also historic.
She is now one of only four bobsledders to have competed in at least five Olympic races and won every medal. She became the fifth American bobsledder to win two medals in one 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 will forever be the first bobsledder to win two medals at the same Games.
Meyers Taylor’s totals, including her Olympic debut as a push athlete: three silver, two bronze. Beijing’s medals were one silver behind Humphries in monobob, and now this bronze medal.
“She’s already a legend in the sport,” said American male push athlete Carlo Valdes. “Another medal just adds to all the accolades, really. … She’s in a league of her own and it’s cool to watch.
Barring a massive comeback from 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 bobsleigh at the 1932 and 2014 Games; they also won three in 1948 and 2002.
“For us to have three medals at these Olympics is a grand slam considering where we come from with Kaillie’s citizenship and Elana having COVID two weeks ago,” the US bobsled coach said. Mike Kohn.
Indeed, this route was far from easy for the Americans.
Humphries, who competed for Canada until 2021, didn’t even know until December, when she was granted citizenship, that she could compete in Beijing. And Meyers Taylor was in isolation when the Olympics began after testing positive for coronavirus, meaning she had to give up her role as one of two American flag bearers at the opening ceremony.
She will carry the American flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday. After two weeks of fast riding, a nice slow walk might be the perfect way to transition into what comes next.
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