KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The crash didn’t break them, it bonded them.
Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers laughed off smashing their bobsled into a wall a few days ago, knowing this wasn’t the time to let anything get in their way of winning an Olympic medal.
The gold is right in front of them now.
And for Williams, a special place in Olympic history is within reach.
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Williams, a former sprint champion who decided to give bobsled a whirl six months ago, and Meyers lead at the halfway point of women’s Olympic bobsled, which has turned into a three-team race with two of them decked out in red, white and blue.
With Williams using her world-class speed to propel her teammate off the starting line, Meyers made two trips down the Sanki Sliding Center track in 1 minute, 54.89 seconds on Tuesday to open a 0.23-second lead over Canada’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, trying to win their second straight title after getting gold in Vancouver.
USA-2’s Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans are in third, 0.56 back of their teammates, who know anything can happen in Wednesday’s final two heats.
“It feels pretty good but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Meyers, who won bronze in Vancouver pushing for Erin Pac. “Kaillie’s a great driver. Jamie’s driving great as well. It’s not over.”
Williams, a two-time sprint medalist in the Summer Olympics, is attempting to join Eddie Eagan as the only Americans to win gold medals in different sports in both the Winter and Summer Games.
It wasn’t long ago that Williams made her first harrowing ride down an icy mountain track, unsure if she wanted to stick with a sport so foreign from the one she’d known.
She’s feeling at home now.
“Anytime I step on any track, ice track, regular track, any kind of track, my goal is to win,” she said. “So I’m not surprised at all. We prepared well, we did everything we’re supposed to do and we know we’re as good as the rest of the field.”
While one American track star is nearing a medal, the more celebrated one is further away.
This time, Lolo Jones isn’t close.
The former hurdler is in 11th with teammate Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3, 1.84 seconds behind Meyers and Williams and 1.28 seconds out of third.
It’s hardly where Jones had hoped to be after switching to bobsled to pursue her dream of winning a medal after ballyhooed failures on the Olympic track in Beijing and London.
“Everything went as expected,” Jones said. “We knew we would have to fight. We knew it would be four tough runs.”
Jones hasn’t given up, and she’s putting on a brave front despite knowing her medal chances are minuscule.
“I’m just going to take it day by day, for sure,” she said.