BEIJING (AP) — U.S. bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor has, finally, made it to the Olympic track.
The worst of her coronavirus scare that started with a positive test on Jan. 29 is behind her — she’s testing negative now, as are her husband and young son — and the three-time Olympic medalist was able to participate in the first official session of women’s monobob training on Thursday.
“We’ve seen a lot of people struggle to clear the tests, so I really wasn’t sure what would happen,” Meyers Taylor said. “Fortunately, I think my family and I got a pretty weak strand and we were all able to clear, but there are some people who don’t clear for 90 days — so it was no given at all.”
Meyers Taylor had not been on the ice at the Yanqing Sliding Center since this fall, and before Thursday hadn’t been in a sled since the final World Cup race of the season in St. Moritz nearly a month ago. Most of her fellow women’s bobsled Olympians had been on the ice last week for several runs of unofficial training, but Meyers Taylor was quarantining and couldn’t join them. She also had to give up her role as one of the U.S. flagbearers for the opening ceremony because of her virus-related issues.
But she got the all-clear on the testing front over the weekend, was able to leave the isolation hotel for her regular room in another hotel — she’s not in the Olympic Village because her son is in Beijing with her — and now is on track to compete starting Sunday in the inaugural Olympic monobob competition. The women’s two-person bobsled event is later next week.
“It wasn’t ideal. Definitely not the greatest to not be able to have those extra trips, especially because this is a very technically challenging track,” Meyers Taylor said. “There’s some really great competitors from top to bottom. You see through the time sheets that some people have figured it out more than others and I only have four more runs to figure it out. It is what it is, but I’m going to do the best with it that I can and make the most of it.”
Meyers Taylor was fifth in the first training run Thursday, 10th in the second run. Training times are often not a true indicator of how drivers stack up against the rest of the field, with teams often trying out different setups and gauging data before determining what will work best on race day.
It has been a daunting few weeks for the U.S. bobsled program. Meyers Taylor tested positive, as did fellow U.S. women’s pilot — and fellow three-time Olympic medalist — Kaillie Humphries. Brakeman Josh Williamson didn’t arrive in Beijing until Wednesday because he tested positive at a team training camp in California. And many of the team’s coaches were in a similar situation to Williamson, their departures from the U.S. delayed by positive tests.
“It’s nice to have the whole squad back together and we feel like a family again,” U.S. brakeman Hakeem Abdul-Saboor said. “It’s been great.”
Meyers Taylor passed the time in isolation by doing makeshift workouts in her room, aided by weights and other equipment the team brought over. She even did some 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 just was praying that I’d have a chance.”