Steven Holcomb wins pilot push title |

Steven Holcomb wins pilot push title

Submitted by USA Bobsled and Skeleton,

Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles) won the women’s USA National Bobsled Push Championships, powered by BMW, in Lake Placid, New York, Friday morning, while Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Georgia) and Steven Holcomb (Park City) claimed their respective pilot push titles.

The women’s competition was a fierce battle between veterans and rookies. Gibbs, a second-year competitor, edged out rookie Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas) by a mere 0.01 seconds for the title with a two-run push time of 9.53.

"I didn’t come into this hoping to be number one, I just came in hoping to do better than last year and I did that. It gives me some confidence, which is great," Gibbs said. "I’m still working on healing from an injury. Winning gives me more of a boost to go harder in my workouts to get ready for ice and I’m confident that my work this summer paid off."

Before joining the national bobsled team Gibbs was a four-year member of Brown University’s volleyball team, where she was All-Ivy League Academic, Second-Team All-Ivy League and team captain with more than 1,000 career kills.

Kehri Jones, a Baylor University track and field sprint athlete, earned her ticket to USA National Bobsled Push Championships, powered by BMW, after winning the preliminary competition last month. The 21-year-old was named 2014 All-Big 12 Outdoors in the 100 meters and 4×100-meter relay, and 2014 All-Big 12 Indoors in 60 meters. She pushed a combined time of 9.54 seconds to finish second.

BMW, a proud partner of USA Bobsled & Skeleton, works with the team year-round to identify opportunities to support key team efforts, including equipment improvements, athlete assistance and future innovation. For the USA National Bobsled Push Championships, BMW sponsored a total of 15 rookie athletes, including Kehri Jones, to offset the costs inherent in participation.

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In the pilot push category, Meyers Taylor posted a two-run combined time of 8.24 seconds for her seventh national push title and fourth as a driver. Meyers Taylor won an Olympic bronze medal in 2010 as a push athlete before switching to driving and winning an Olympic silver medal in 2014.

"Every chance I have to compete allows me the chance to work out the kinks and dust off the rust and get back into the routine of racing," Meyers Taylor said. "Competing in the U.S. is always challenging because it’s always a high level of competition. It forces me to push to the max and I have to make sure I have my ducks in a row."

Push championships are mandatory for any athlete that wishes to compete on the national team during the 2015-2016 season. Drivers will analyze push championship results before selecting their team of athletes for national team trials, which begin in Lake Placid next month, and Meyers Taylor was impressed with the talent in this year’s competition.

Three-time Olympic medalist and five-time World Champion Holcomb clinched the men’s pilot push title with a total time of 8.03 seconds.

"It’s been a long summer and we haven’t been on ice or in a competitive environment since March, so it feels good to get back into the swing of things," Holcomb said. "I’m happy with how things went today. I’m still coming back from an Achilles issue that’s been lingering, so my goal was to go out there and see how it holds up. I certainly wasn’t expecting to push faster than I did last season, so it feels good."

Geoff Gadbois (Milton, Vermont) (8.21) was second and Hunter Church (Cadyville, New York) (8.35) finished third. Codie Bascue (Whitehall, New York) pushed the fastest start times, but he was disqualified for stepping over the designated load line.