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Winter sports: Lolo Jones rankles some bobsledders' feathers
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Des Moines, Iowa • Lolo Jones' attempt at humor in a video that's gone viral received a chilly reception from some members of the bobsledding community.

Like that, the U.S. hurdler who also recently picked up bobsled finds herself under scrutiny again.

Jones posted a Vine video in which she pokes fun at a check she received for $741.84 as prize money from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. In the spoof, she picks up the phone and says, "I'm going to be a little bit late on my rent."

Now, instead of fully concentrating on the U.S. track and field championships this week in her hometown, she's explaining herself. She insisted it was simply a joke and she said she has already talked to some of her bobsledding teammates.

"None of the girl teammates I work with took offense," Jones said.

Still, money is a delicate topic to some athletes.

Olympic gold medalist Steven Holcomb, of Park City, told USA Today: "It wasn't taken very well. People were really kind of insulted. You just made $741, more than most athletes in the sport. So what are you complaining about?"

"The way it came across to a lot of the athletes here was kind of snobby because she's one of the most well known athletes in the world and she's making pretty good money in endorsements (as a two-time Olympic hurdler). And to basically turn around and slap us in the face because you didn't make any money this year in bobsledding while taking money from other's athletes?"

Jones may be new to the bobsled, but she's rapidly making progress in her bid to make the team for the Sochi Games. She helped the U.S. bobsled team win gold in the combined bobsled-skeleton team event at the world championships in Switzerland in January. She also discovered she was setting personal training bests after pushing around a 400-pound sled for months.

She's hoping it carries over to the track this week — and for years to come. Jones is determined to make the Olympic team for Rio in 2016.

"We work hard in track, but the way they work in bobsled, it's just baffling," Jones said. "I was incredibly strong after the season."

Sometimes, her quick wit can land her in hot water on social media.

"If I knew a secret on how to make a tweet or a Facebook post that would please everybody, I'd be a millionaire," Jones said. "Everybody has a different sense of humor. I think that's a subject that athletes struggle with all the time — they want to open their lives up to people, but at the same time, they'll get scrutinized for anything. Anything could be misconstrued.

"You walk a fine border of showing people who you are and just doing the PG, plain tweets where you show nothing at all."

Her tweets over the years have typically been funny and insightful. But some have put her in the spotlight, like this one. In the video, she shows the check and then says, "Seven months with bobsled season. The whole season. That's it?"

"I don't think this is the biggest mishap I've ever had," she said of her video post.

That may have been when she trash-talked about head injuries to former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand after he jokingly challenged her to a race on Twitter. What she didn't know was the defensive tackle was paralyzed in a game. LeGrand tweeted that he understood what happened and didn't take it personally, saying, "All good."

Although many popular athletes get their share of scrutiny, Jones seems to receive more than most. She's been ripped for everything from her posts to having lucrative sponsorship deals despite not having a cache of gold medals to justify such contracts.

She's taken all the criticism in stride.

"You have to take the pros with the cons. I do that with everything in life," Jones said. "The pros are I can get subjects that aren't talked about out there. The cons are it may hit high publicity traffic areas and I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm trying to prepare for U.S. championships. I'm just trying to make you laugh.'"

Thinking about staying off social media?

"I've seen many athletes ... quit their Twitter account," she said. "They just washed their hands and walked away. I would think about it. I sometimes wonder, 'Is that a day when they were stress relieved?'"

If Lolo Jones returns to Lake Placid, N.Y., later this year in hopes of making the Olympic bobsled team, she can expect a frosty reception. After she posted a Vine video Monday cheekily complaining about her $741.84 check from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, the most accomplished bobsledder in U.S. history called Jones' comments "a slap in the face."

Olympic gold medalist Steven Holcomb was in the midst of his second lifting session when the topic came up at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. "It wasn't taken very well," he said. "People were really kind of insulted. You just made $741, more than most athletes in the sport. So what are you complaining about?"

"The way it came across to a lot of the athletes here was kind of snobby because she's one of the most well known athletes in the world and she's making pretty good money in endorsements (as a two-time Olympic hurdler). And to basically turn around and slap us in the face because you didn't make any money this year in bobsledding while taking money from other's athletes?"

In the video Jones says, "Seven months with bobsled season. The whole season. That's it." On the phone, presumably talking to a mock landlord, she says, "I'm going to be a little late on my rent." The camera shows her paycheck.

After being criticized by other bobsledders on Twitter, Jones said that she made the comment to bring attention to the issue. She tweeted: "Speaking out is the first step to change. That is how Track and field changed our sport. We demanded improvements."

The check Jones received was based on her results last season. The (FIBT) international bobsled federation contributes money that U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation divides among the athletes. Jones and Jazmine Fenlator paired to win silver at the World Cup in Lake Placid.

Jones does not receive a stipend because she wasn't one of the top push athletes when the season started last year. Those stipends will be reevaluated. The maximum stipend is $2,000 a month, USBSF spokesperson Amanda Bird said.

Holcomb won four golds in World Cup races and his check (from the FIBT pool) was just under $3,000, he said. "She's brand new to the sport ...and she's upset because she got $741? I've been doing it for 16 years and I didn't get a whole lot more."

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