World Cup, here we go!
If you haven't already heard, we have a few new additions to the USA national bobsled team -- and they came straight from the American track and field team. That's right, despite all the media criticism around track stars Lolo Jones, Tianna Madison and Hyleas Fountain joining in our team trials this year, Lolo and Tianna are officially on the roster as brakemen. (Hyleas unfortunately had an injury that kept her from spending enough time pushing to make the national team, but she'll still be able to participate in our development circuit, which means she can compete in the Europa Cup and other international races.)
The new additions give us a lot of depth, which was big since we didn't have many people returning from last year. We'll have three drivers (Jazmine Fenlator, Jamie Greubel, and me), and six brakemen (Lolo, Tianna, Emily Azevedo, Katie Eberling, Aja Evans and Cherrelle Garrett). In fact, it's funny, but every single woman on our roster was a track athlete first except for Katie -- who played volleyball -- and me -- a former softball player.
There's no doubt that track and bobsledding go hand in hand. I know Lolo and Tianna are hardly done with their running careers, but training for the two sports is actually very compatible. As bobsledders, our conditioning involves lifting that's similar to what they do when training for track. We do a little less running than they do, but I can tell you those girls are fully committed to bobsled and willing to do whatever they can to be as good as possible. They're here with us in Lake Placid and will both be in our first big competition, a World Cup race here, starting Friday.
I'm lucky to be paired with Tianna, and I'm looking forward to racing with her. I've got one of the fastest women in the world in the back of my sled -- which is a pretty good feeling going into race day. She's a little on the small side for bobsled but what she lacks in size she makes up in heart. That's why she's earned two nicknames: "Mighty Mouse" and "Mighty Madison." Not only that, Tianna knows how to compete. Usually it can be nerve-wracking to see how a rookie will respond to World Cup competition, but Tianna is no ordinary bobsled rookie. It's very reassuring to have an athlete who's already competed on the Olympic stage.
I was paired with Tianna because of her speed. I am one of the fastest pushing pilots in the world, and need someone fast as a brakeman. This track seems to suit her well, so we'll see what we can do on race day. We're going to go out there and have some fun. My goal is pretty simple: to drive well. Of course every athlete wants to win and I want it to, but I can't control the outcome, so I simply want to execute what I've been training.
The other teams are already here in Lake Placid training. Since we're only two years out from the Games, the drivers don't change much, so I'll be looking at my competition for 2014. The Germans are always among the top three sleds in the world, so I'll definitely be watching out for them, and there's a Canadian, Kaillie Humphries, who is a world champ on this track. Unlike the Germans, who try to outdrive everyone regardless of their start, Kaillie is all about the fast start. That's what we Americans go for too -- and we'll get our first test of how well we do it this weekend.