Daily Olympic Briefing: Elana Meyers Taylor goes monobobbing for gold on Day 9

Elana Meyers Taylor takes part in a women's monobob training session - Credit: Getty Images

Elana Meyers Taylor takes part in a women's monobob training session – Credit: Getty Images

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

On Day 9, women’s monobob debuts featuring Elana Meyers Taylor, Erin Jackson can end a U.S. speed skating drought and the U.S. men’s hockey team finishes group play.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the night of Saturday, February 12 or the morning of Sunday, February 13.

Bobsled

Bobsled: Women’s Monobob
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Run 1 8:30 p.m. NBCOlympics.com
Run 2 10:00 p.m. NBCOlympics.com

In the Olympic debut of monobob, triple Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor competes a week removed from a stint in COVID-19 isolation after arriving at the Winter Games two weeks ago. The first two runs of the competition take place on Saturday night with the conclusion of the event and final two runs taking place on Sunday night after the Super Bowl.

It’s hardly Meyers Taylor’s first challenge as an athlete.

She took up bobsled after her Olympic softball dreams ended with “the worst tryout ever in the history of tryouts,” she has said.

Upon watching the 2006 Olympics, her mom, Janet, suggested Meyers Taylor try a new sport.

“You’re strong and fast. These are your strengths in softball, it could work for bobsled,” she remembered her parents telling her.

Meyers Taylor, who learned how to be a softball pitcher by going to Borders every day and reading a book about it, flew to Lake Placid, N.Y., home of one of the two bobsled tracks in the country.

Her dad, Eddie, enlisted one of his former football teammates, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, to be her fitness coach.

(Eddie spent six straight summers in Atlanta Falcons training camps in the 1980s but never played in the regular season as he fulfilled service with the U.S. Marines.)

Meyers Taylor remembers being disoriented after her first bobsled run, even though it was only the bottom half of the track. Still, she knew by the end of her first week that she was destined to move from the back of the sled (push athlete) to the front (driver).

That had to wait. Almost every bobsled convert starts as a push athlete, where you have little control over whether you’re chosen to compete.

Meyers Taylor was at the center of such politics at the 2009 World Championships. Top U.S. driver Shauna Rohbock had been competing with close friend Valerie Fleming for years, including taking silver at the 2006 Olympics.

But Meyers Taylor edged Fleming in a pre-worlds race-off, and coaches put Meyers Taylor in the back of Rohbock’s sled. Rohbock was upset with the process. Meyers Taylor, in a difficult spot, raced with “4 VAL” written on tape on the back of her helmet. They won silver.

In 2010, Meyers Taylor pushed for Erin Pac Blumert in their first Olympics. Pac Blumert suffered an upper leg injury shortly before the Games and did not push the sled in training runs.

“[Meyers Taylor] didn’t once say suck it up. She was supportive,” Pac Blumert said this week. “She’s like, ‘You know what, we’re here together. We’re a team. Let’s do this.’ And I really admire her for that.”

Pac and Meyers Taylor, the No. 2 U.S. team going into the Olympics, finished ahead of Rohbock’s sled and earned a bronze medal. They celebrated with McDonald’s and ice cream.

Then Meyers Taylor went to work, switching to the driver’s seat. There was push back from the federation. Meyers Taylor said she was asked, “Why do we need to take one of our top brakemen and turn her into a driver?”

She answered emphatically over the last decade: two world championships gold medals, two World Cup season titles and two Olympic silver medals.

“She knew where she wanted to go,” said Pac Blumert, who retired after the 2010 Olympics. “I didn’t realize that she would continue as far as she has.”

At the 2014 Olympics, Meyers Taylor and push athlete Lauryn Williams led going into the fourth and final run. Their sled grazed the wall, and they missed gold by one tenth of a second. “Hopefully America will forgive me,” Meyers Taylor said after.

Then came the major injuries. In January 2015, she sustained a concussion in a race crash. Meyers Taylor still swept the World Cup and world championships titles that season but missed much of the next season. “I really lost a year of my life,” she said.

In 2018, she raced on a torn Achilles at the Olympics. Husband Nic Taylor remembered her state of mind going into the final run, before she won another silver (this time with push athlete Lauren Gibbs).

“She said, ‘I’m either going to tear it off the bone trying to win, or I’m not going to compete at all,’ and then she walked away,” he said. “I was like, oh my God, maybe that’s why I don’t have any Olympic medals.”

In 2020, Meyers Taylor gave birth to son Nico between the third and fourth heats of the world championships, the first time she missed the competition since 2007. She was in labor for two days, induced three weeks early, before undergoing an emergency C-section. They soon learned Nico had Down syndrome.

The Taylors traveled the World Cup tour the last two seasons, managing childcare amid a pandemic. They did everything possible to avoid COVID-19, but Meyers Taylor tested positive two days after arriving at the Olympics.

She was voted by her U.S. Olympic teammates to carry the American flag in the Opening Ceremony but had to cede the honor while in isolation.

Meyers Taylor was the top monobob driver in the world this season with four wins in eight starts, but how she’ll fare in the event’s Olympic debut is unclear.

She was discharged in time to take all six official training runs with a best ranking of fourth in the final run. It marked her first runs in a sled in three weeks. She also has the two-woman event later in the final week of the Games.

“My goal was to come in here and win two gold medals,” Meyers Taylor, is 37 and may retire after these Games. “Now, if I just get to the starting line, I can make good things happen.”
 

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing: Men’s Giant Slalom
All events also stream live on Peacock
Event Time (ET) How to Watch
Run 1 9:15 p.m. NBCOlympics.com, NBC
Run 2
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