Now that Lolo Jones has succeeded in getting herself a spot as a brakeman on this season’s US Women’s bobsled team, the question becomes, will she be able to hang on to it?
The spot means that she is eligible to make the Sochi team in February, but for one reason or another, bobsled politics are notoriously controversial, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The question is: Should you choose the biggest, baddest brakeman or the one with the best working relationship with the pilot. The answer is one that the US is famous for getting wrong. Jones is a powerful, elite athlete with a record to back it up, but does she have what it takes to be like one with her pilot?
Elana Myers, a medal favorite for Sochi and driver of the USA-1 sled, agrees that a pilot and brakeman need to be on the same page.
“A great brakeman knows what I need before I need it,” she said at a media summit earlier this month. “Sometimes it is difficult.”
She has that connection with veterans Aja Evans and Katie Eberling, she said. But as a former brakeman herself, she understands that new brakemen need an opportunity to break through. “As a brakeman, you want that opportunity.”
However, does the chance of that opportunity come at the cost of valuable familiarity? This seems to be something that the US teams are continually lacking.
“Crew familiarity is something that has always escaped USA Bobsled,” said pilot Steven Holcomb, and Olympic gold medalist, at the media summit.
Someone might have better measureables, like push times, sprint speeds, etc., but on the track the team has to be seamless unit, and that comes only from familiarity and experience, Holcomb suggested.
“You go to war with these guys,” he said. “Any sort of hesitation can cost a medal.”
Can Lolo pull it off? We shall see…
Image via youtube