Krasnaya Polyana, Russia • Park City’s Steven Holcomb is proud to have filled two 62-year gaps in U.S. bobsled history. Lauryn Williams tried for a distinction that would have been 82 years in the making but barely missed Wednesday night.
Williams and driver Elana Meyers of the USA-1 sled lost their lead over Canada-1 in the fourth run of the women’s competition at the Sanki Sliding Center. The Americans earned the silver medal, but Williams fell short in her bid to become the first athlete since 1932 to win gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Games.
The former track sprinter still became the fifth summer/winter medalist. U.S. boxer-turned-bobsledder Eddie Eagan maintained his place in Olympic lore with dual golds.
“I didn’t come here to make history,” Williams said. “I came here to help Team USA.”
Holcomb’s gold medal in the men’s four-man event in 2010 and his bronze in a two-man sled this week each ended a 62-year drought for the U.S. team.
Williams claimed an individual silver medal in the 100 meters in 2004 and collected a gold as an alternate on the 400 relay team (having run in a qualifying heat) in 2012. After joining the U.S. bobsled program only in July, she did her part well. The USA-1 sled posted the fastest start time in each of the four runs.
Canada-1, with driver Kaillie Humphries, trailed by 0.23 seconds entering Wednesday’s final two runs. Humphries made up 0.12 seconds in the third run and .21 seconds in the fourth run, winning in 3:50.61.
“I just made some mistakes,” said Meyers, who hit the wall coming out of curve 2 and never quite recovered. “At the end of the day, those mistakes cost us, but Lauryn pushed her heart out and I fought every single second of that run.”
Williams, 30, said there’s “a 33 percent chance” she’ll stay with the sport.
The USA-2 sled of Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans finished a strong third, giving the Americans two medals for the first time since women’s bobsled was added to the program at the Utah Olympic Park in 2002.
The USA-3 sled with Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones, another Olympic track athlete, placed 11th. The coaching staff’s selection of Jones was derided as a marketing-oriented move by some critics, including a former U.S. men’s bobsledder. Yet her start times ranked in the top five in three of the four runs. Jones also was instrumental in persuading Williams to try bobsledding.