BEIJING — American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor has finally arrived on the Olympic track.
The worst of her coronavirus scare which began with a positive test on January 29 is behind her – she has now tested negative, as have her husband and young son – and the three-time Olympic medalist was able to participate in the first official match session. women’s monobob practice on Thursday.
“We saw a lot of people struggling to get through the tests, so I really wasn’t sure what would happen,” Meyers Taylor said. “Fortunately I think my family and I had quite a weak wick and we were all able to clear, but there are people who don’t clean for 90 days – so it was not a given at all.”
Meyers Taylor had not been on the ice at Yanqing Sliding Center since this fall and, prior to Thursday, he had not been in a luge since the last World Cup of the season in St. Moritz nearly one month. Most of her fellow women’s bobsleigh Olympians had been on the ice the past week for several unofficial practices, but Meyers Taylor was in quarantine and couldn’t join them. She also had to step down from her role as the US flag bearer for the opening ceremony due to her virus-related issues.
But she got the green light on the testing front over the weekend, was able to leave the isolation hotel for her usual room in another hotel – she is not in the Olympic village because her son is at Beijing with her – and is now on track to compete from Sunday in the first Olympic monobob competition. The women’s two-man bobsleigh event will take place later next week.
“It wasn’t ideal. It’s definitely not the best not to be able to do those extra trips, especially because it’s a technically very difficult track,” Meyers Taylor said. “There are some really good competitors up and down. You see through the timesheets that some people have understood more than others and I only have four races left to figure that out. That’s what it’s all about. is, but I’m going to do the best I can and make the most of it.”
Meyers Taylor was fifth in the first practice run on Thursday, 10th in the second run. Practice times are often not a true indicator of how drivers compare to the rest of the field, with teams often trying out different setups and measuring data before figuring out what will work best on race day.
The past few weeks have been daunting for the US bobsled program. Meyers Taylor tested positive, as did American female pilot – and three-time Olympic medalist – Kaillie Humphries. Brakeman Josh Williamson only arrived in Beijing on Wednesday because he tested positive during a training camp in California. And many of the team’s coaches were in a similar situation to Williamson, their departures from the United States delayed by positive tests.
“It’s good to have the whole team together and we feel like family again,” said American brakeman Hakeem Abdul-Saboor. “It’s been great.”
Meyers Taylor passed the time in seclusion doing makeshift workouts in his bedroom, aided by weights and other equipment the team brought along. She even did a few sprints, as much as one can sprint in a less than sprawling hotel space.
“I had no idea what was going to happen,” Meyers Taylor said. “I was just praying for a chance.”