Whistler to host bobsled and skeleton World Cup opener this weekend
Parkite Steven Holcomb to compete in Whistler
November 29, 2016
A month after naming the bobsled and skeleton national teams, the World Cup circuit is set to begin on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, Canada this weekend. The track was blanketed in two feet of snow during the training week, and more snow is in the forecast for the coming week and weekend. Racing will commence Dec. 2 with women’s skeleton and two-man bobsled, then conclude the next day with the men’s skeleton, women’s bobsled and four-person bobsled events.
For Team USA, six Olympic medalists join a group of experienced sliders to make up the majority of the World Cup roster, which is rounded out by the only rookie on the team, push athlete Briauna Jones (Charlotte, N.C.).
Jones has been pushing on the North American Cup for pilot Brittany Reinbolt (Searcy, Ark.), who earned her first national team berth as a driver this year. The pair won bronze in the final Whistler North American Cup race last week, and they will partner together again this weekend for the World Cup opener in the women’s USA-3 sled.
Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) and Jamie Greubel Poser (Newtown, Pa.), both of whom are Olympic medalists, will once again lead the women’s squad. Meyers Taylor will pilot the BMW wrapped and made sled with second-year competitor Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas). Meyers Taylor has a strong history on the 2010 Olympic track, where she claimed Olympic bronze as a push athlete with Erin Pac.
Greubel Poser earned silver at last year’s World Cup as part of her massively successful 2015-2016 campaign, which saw her win six medals in seven World Cup races. She’ll be competing in the BMW-made sled designated to KOA with last season’s World Championship bronze medalist push athlete Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, Calif.).
On the men’s side, Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) returns to the track on which he won Olympic gold in the 2010 four-person competition. In total, Holcomb has three World Cup medals in Whistler on what has become one of his strongest tracks. Holcomb will be racing with Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.) in the Under Armour wrapped BMW sled. Holcomb and Valdes will be joined by Jimmy Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) in Saturday’s four-person race.
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Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) and Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) will each be competing in their first Whistler World Cup race. Bascue swept the team trials races to earn his third national team berth, and he will compete alongside rookie standout Christopher Kinney (Stockbridge, Ga.) in the two-man race and with Kinney, Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine) and Adrian Adams (Reidsville, N.C.) in the four-person event.
Olsen won Olympic gold as a member of Holcomb’s 2010 four-person team and is hungry to earn hardware from the driver’s seat now. He’ll make his World Cup debut from the front seat with Evan Weinstock (Las Vegas, Nev.) on Friday.
Holcomb and Bascue will each race both the two-man and four-person events, while Olsen will race only in two-man. Two-time Olympian Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) will drive the third Team USA sled in the four-person event because he has a multitude of experience on the difficult Whistler track. Cunningham will team with Nathan Gilsleider (Claremore, Okla.), Brent Fogt (Alpine, Utah) and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (Powhatan, Va.).
Of the 11 push athletes on the men’s bobsled national team, only Valdes, Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas) and Del Duca have pushed in a World Cup event on the Whistler track, and the week of training leading up to this weekend’s races will be especially important.
Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wis.) leads the men’s skeleton World Cup roster. Both Antoine and second-year national team member Nathan Crumpton (Park City, Utah) recorded top-10 finishes in Whistler in last year’s World Cup event, and Antoine earned his first ever World Cup medal, a bronze, in the 2009 Whistler race. Olympian Kyle Tress (Ewing, N.J.) rounds out the men’s skeleton team, returning to the team after a yearlong hiatus last season.
Aside from her Lake Placid, N.Y. home track, Whistler was Annie O’Shea’s (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) best race last year. She took home silver on the harrowing track, and will be joined by Kendall Wesenberg (Modesto, Calif.) and Savannah Graybill (Denver, Pa.), who is filling in for Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) as she recovers from an illness.
After competing in Whistler, athletes head to Lake Placid for an international training week before the second competition of the season.