USA starts North American Cup with a bang
Though the Canadian men’s team of Ivo de Bruin and Daniel Sunderland and the Canadian women’s team of Alysia Rissling and Josee Theoret earned first-place finishes in the North American Cup bobsled competitions on Thursday morning at the Utah Olympic Park, the American teams turned in strong performances on a familiar track as well.
In the women’s contest, Brittany Reinbolt and Shelby Williamson slid to second place, only .25 seconds behind Rissling and Theoret. And, in the men’s contest, Jake Peterson piloted teammate Reagan Page to second place, .37 seconds behind de Bruin and Sunderland.
For the Americans to eclipse the Canadians moving forward, Reinbolt said it will take a complete performance, something she’s struggled with this season.
"Those were some of my best runs I’ve ever had," she said. "We’ve just got to put all the pieces together I guess to get on top of the podium. It basically takes three things to win a race — a good start, good equipment and a good drive. I feel like I’m always missing one of the three components and that’s what happened today. Hopefully I’ll be able to put all three together one day."
That said, Reinbolt said her and Williamson’s second run on Thursday gave her confidence going into Friday’s competition (which happened after this issue went to press) and beyond.
"I think it just was a little cleaner," she said. "The first one was pretty clean, too, but the second one was a little cleaner. It definitely fires me up to try to come back tomorrow and try to get on top of the podium."
For Peterson and Page, who saw their first run turn in a slightly faster time, finishing in second place is nothing to be ashamed of.
"I’m absolutely happy," Peterson said. "Going from a little bit worse of a season last year to where I’m standing now, I really can’t complain. Reagan pushed his heart out, I pushed my heart out and had two of the best runs I’ve ever had in my life."
Though Reinbolt was born in Arkansas and Peterson in Minnesota, both pilots learned how to drive in Park City. Though Peterson now calls Lake Placid, New York, his home track, he said he does still enjoy competing in Park City. For Reinbolt, coming back to where it all started is always special.
"I actually learned how to drive on this track, so it’s my home track," she said. "Now I split time between here and Placid, but I started here, so this is one of my favorite tracks and I really enjoy driving it."
Coming from Arkansas, a state not necessarily known for producing a lot of Winter Olympic athletes, Reinbolt explained how she got her start in bobsled.
"I saw it on TV," she said. "I was a track athlete, but I kind of knew I wouldn’t make it to the Olympics in the 100-meter dash, so I saw the bobsledders and thought, ‘Hey, I think I could do that,’ and so here I am."
On Saturday and Sunday, Reinbolt will make history, piloting the first-ever four-woman bobsled when she and her crew compete alongside the men.
"I’m really excited about it," she said. "More than wanting to win races, I just like doing something that hasn’t been done before in the history of the world. That fires me up more than anything. To be able to pave a path for women in the future of the sport is really exciting."
See the four-man (and four-woman) bobsled competitions on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Utah Olympic Park. Both contests are scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
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