Jones' bobsled debut to be World Cup
Lolo Jones' international bobsled debut will come at the sport's highest level: the World Cup circuit.
The Olympic hurdler was one of three women's push athletes selected to compete for the U.S. in this weekend's World Cup opener at Lake Placid, N.Y. Jones, who tried the sport for the first time just last month, will be in the back of USA-3 with Jazmine Fenlator as her pilot.
Last month, Jones was one of six push athletes chosen for the women's national team. That did not guarantee her a spot in a World Cup event, though after the final race-off data was calculated on Sunday night, Jones had her spot.
The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation is expected to release the full team lineup, including pairings for the men's sleds, on Monday.
All three women's push athletes who were picked by the USBSF for the first World Cup are rookies. Tianna Madison — an Olympic gold medallist sprinter, part of the team that easily broke the world record in the 4x100-meter relay to win the title at the London Games — will be pushing USA-1, piloted by Elana Meyers.
And another athlete with a track background, Aja Evans, will push USA-2, piloted by Jamie Greubel. Evans turned heads immediately in Lake Placid by winning the team's push championship.
"Aja's upside is unbelievable," U.S. coach Todd Hays said.
Jones and Madison were invited to compete in the team's push championships — which do not occur on ice — by Hays, who wanted veteran Olympians around the team to provide morale and inspiration. He also wanted to see if he could follow a common path in bobsled, seeing if the explosiveness of track athletes would work on the ice.
Jones and Madison did not disappoint, and Hays said he was especially impressed by how much work they were willing to put in to learn a new sport in a relatively short amount of time. Now, they'll get their chance to compete against the world's best in their first international competition.
The women's bobsled race at the first World Cup is scheduled for Friday morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Reigning women's skeleton world champion Katie Uhlaender is scheduled to open her international season Thursday, with men's skeleton also starting that day. Two-man bobsledding is set for Friday and four-man bobsledding is Saturday, when the "Night Train" team of Steven Holcomb, Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen is expected to begin defence of its world championship.
Jones was the gold-medal favourite before hitting a hurdle and finishing seventh at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, then managed a fourth-place finish in London this past summer. Jones still plans to compete in hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, although now she also has a legitimate chance of earning a spot on the U.S. team heading to the 2014 Sochi Games.