History made at Utah Olympic Park
History was made at the Utah Olympic Park on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when the first-ever four-woman bobsled teams took to the ice alongside the men in a North American Cup competition.
The U.S. sled of driver Brittany Reinbolt and crew members Shelby Williamson, Leslie Stratton and Caitlin Steutz made up one of the historic sled teams, alongside the Canadian sled of driver Alysia Rissling and team members Courtenay Farrington, Julia Corrente and Josee Theoret.
Though Rissling’s team finished seventh of eight sleds both days and Reinbolt’s team finished eighth, Reinbolt said she had a blast competing with the men.
"It was really fun to accomplish history and do something that had never been done before," she said. "I think the main purpose in it is being a part of something bigger than myself and igniting a fire for the four-women bobsled movement and hopefully giving people something to believe in and other women an opportunity to jump on board."
It may have taken until the last North American Cup race of this season to make the four-woman sled a reality, but Reinbolt said it’s a step in the right direction.
"It would be awesome, going into next season, if we could get more women’s crews on board and eventually get our own discipline," she said. "It’s not just about me hopping in a sled with a crew of four girls and getting last place — it’s about eventually getting tons of teams out here and having our own race and making it competitive."
She added that she hopes the efforts of her, Rissling and their teams draw more women to the sport.
"Hopefully this weekend inspired other girls to take part and we’ll see where it goes from here," she said.
Both Saturday and Sunday’s races featured the Brazilian team of driver Edson Bindilatti and crew members Edson Ricardo Martins, Odirlei Pessoni and Davidson Henrique de Souza taking first place, followed by U.S. sleds in second and third place.
Driver Colin Coughlin’s team of Kris Enslen, Dallas Irvin and Trevor Christianson took second both days and driver Jake Peterson’s team of Dominic Crucitti, Reagan Page and Dennis Lindsay finished both competitions in third place.
Since the weekend’s competitions wrapped up this season’s North American Cup, end-of-season awards were presented following Sunday’s contests.
Coughlin ended the season ranked first in the two-man bobsled standings, with Peterson just behind in second place. Peterson finished in second place in the four-man standings as well, with Bindilatti taking the top spot. In the two-woman standings, Rissling finished in first place, with Reinbolt taking second.
Peterson’s two second-place finishes were enough to vault him ahead of Coughlin and Bindilatti in the combined standings, where he finished with 1,066 total points, just ahead of Coughlin’s 1,028 and Bindilatti’s 928. Peterson was quick to credit his teammates for helping him succeed this season.
"This year, I couldn’t have done it without these four great guys that have been racing with me throughout the year," he said. "They have been supportive of me throughout this entire year and I cannot thank them enough for what they’ve done for me. They are the ones who have brought me to where I am today."
Peterson said he’s excited to see what this year’s success in the North American Cup will do for his future.
"I didn’t know what to expect this year," he said. "I was hoping for the best, but now that I’m at where I am now, I’m more than thankful and truly blessed. If I can make the World Cup next year, I’m going to be happier than I’ve ever been. If these guys can help me get there, that’s even better."
The only competition left on Peterson’s schedule is the U.S. Nationals event in Lake Placid, New York, in mid-March. Peterson said he’s excited for the chance to compete on his home track. After that, he said, he’ll be focused on getting himself ready for next season.
"As soon as I’m off the ice, I’m going to be in the weight room and out on the track," he said. "I’m going to be running and I’m going to be lifting. Then, come September or October, I’ll be out on the ice again and hopefully I’ll be killing it out there."
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