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Olympic bobsled: Tight teamwork brings US women bronze

US pair Erin Pac and Elana Meyers took bronze in Olympic bobsled Thursday night, putting the US on a podium that Germany has traditionally dominated. Canada took gold and silver.

By Staff Writer / February 25, 2010

Olympic bobsled winners. Erin Pac, right and Elana Meyers, of team USA win the bronze medal during the ladies' two-man bobsled competition at the Whistler sliding center during the 2010 Winter Olympic games

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Whistler, British Columbia

A year ago, Erin Pac and Elana Meyers weren’t even on speaking terms.

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Tonight, when they step up to the podium together, they’ll be celebrating not only their bronze medals but a friendship redeemed by their shared Christian faith.

“To overcome what we overcame – I’m pretty sure no one would have thought we would be here today,” said Meyers last night. “There’s no one I would rather be here with than Erin.”

Their success was deeply personal, but it was also part of a very public North American sweep of the two-day competition at Whistler Sliding Center – an extraordinary feat in a sport where Germans are virtually always on the podium. The fast and challenging track gave a clear home-field advantage to the Canadians, who took gold and silver and set a new track record in the cold, drizzly weather. But Pac and Meyers were able to figure it out well enough to hang in there for bronze.

“This track is very tricky, and with the limited number of runs we’ve had, I had quite a few pretty big mistakes that cost me a lot of time,” said Pac, who clocked the second-fastest times on all but the fourth and final heat. “I’m just happy I made it down on all four runners, because not everyone did.”

Sleds tipping

German driver Cathleen Martini, who dominated the World Cup season this year, was within striking distance of the podium when she got too high on a turn midway down and couldn’t recover. The sled tipped over, throwing her brakeman out the back before coming to a halt. Both athletes walked away from the crash, which drew cheers from the enthusiastic crowd, but the fact that the overall World Cup champion couldn’t make it across the finish line underscored the difficulty of the track, where the two-woman teams reached speeds of 91 m.p.h.

“It’s so hard to watch Martini, who’s had a phenomenal season, lose a medal like that,” said driver Bree Schaaf of the USA-3 team, who got to know the Germans on the World Cup tour this year. “These are all our friends.”

Schaaf teamed with brakeman Emily Azevedo to finish fifth, just 0.01 seconds ahead of the USA-1 team of Olympic medalist Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka. Pac and Meyers were 0.41 seconds ahead of Germany’s top team, and lost silver to Canada’s Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown by 0.27 seconds on the final run.

That might have been Meyers’ fault, but not because of what she did on the track.

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