Elana Meyers Taylor is US Bobsledding’s barrier defender

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At the start of this article—less than 18 hours after our Zoom interview—bus driver Elana Meyers Taylor faced another challenge. Luckily, for Team USA and the world, she’s the one out of the box.

She was quarantined in a hotel room in Beijing after she, her husband Nic Taylor and their infant son Nico tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities told the three-time Olympic medalist and two-time world champion that she would require ongoing testing and repeated negative tests in recent days before being released. . Heating starts in just 10 days for monoboba one-man event that debuted alongside six other events during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Based on USA Today, her son—who she wanted to be on the podium with her—was two rooms away, staying with her father, former Navy soccer star Eddie Meyers. Her husband – who is also her coach – is trying to spend time in the room between his wife and their son. Meyers Taylor is still breastfeeding and the hotel is assisting with Nico’s normal delivery.

Will the 37-year-old athlete – who has been vaccinated and boosted – appear worried? Nothing special. The story of Elana Meyers Taylor is a story of significant turning points and crossings. This is just another challenge in their fraught careers.

Raised as a gifted athlete in the metro Atlanta area, Meyers Taylor was a prolific softball player at George Washington University as the first person to sign up for the sport. After a tumultuous college athletic experience — the softball team was forced to cancel the remainder of the 2004 season, following a 1-5-1 record, due to the loss of many players to injury — Meyers admitted get a desired practice spot for the US softball team. However, in her own words, she “dropped and burned”. Her first Olympic dream went up in smoke when softball was dropped from the Olympics after the 2008 summer games – in Beijing, incidentally.

Meyers’ parents advised her to try her hand at the US snowmobile racing team in 2002. However, it wasn’t until she did. retirement from professional softball in 2007, she recalled her parents’ offer and found herself called up to the Olympics after a simple email.

“They invited me to Lake Placid, New York, and I was on the national team two weeks later,” Meyers Taylor told Presser. She followed in the footsteps of skater legend Vonetta Flowers, the first African-American and the first black athlete from any country to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

World No. 1 in women’s toboggan and women’s monobobs, Meyers Taylor is currently the most decorated American women’s snowmobile racer in history: Eight medals (four golds) at the Championships. world champion and three Olympic medals (two silver and one bronze). She and driver Cherrelle Garrett defeated three German riders in 2015 to win their first world championship in two women’s tobogganing. She also became America’s first driver, of any gender, for 56 years winning a World Championship on a non-North American track. Meyers Taylor also introduced champion hurdler Lolo Jones to the sport. She has also won two World Championship gold medals — first coming with Meyers Taylor at the 2013 games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

However, there was much that happened in between, and it wasn’t all medals and glory. There have been some concussions. Softball has a underreported their history, as well as sleigh rides. Brain experts who have studied these ski athletes say a unique set of symptoms can stem from a series of continuous and cyclical crashes, jolts, and violent shaking. and endure violent gravitational acceleration.

A lot of athlete experiencing brain fog, even from routine runs without risk, is called “Snowboard head.” It is a problematic terminology, as it simplifies and normalizes concussion or other traumatic brain injury symptoms. Meyers Taylor — who was commit to donate her brain for research — frankly describing the sport as like someone “being dumped in the trash and kicked down a rocky hill.” After previous concussions, she believes her brain is “even better” after receiving treatment from various brain injury specialists.

“I have less collisions,” she said. “I was able to protect myself better. I have a safer helmet. I did different things in the sled, where I sat in all different things [positions.] We’ve made tweaks over the years to make it as safe as possible. ”

The other struggle is that Meyers Taylor becomes the top lead – essentially the pilot, in layman’s terms – the position of power in the bobsled. Her ascent has not been without racial controversies – not entirely different from the idea of ​​a black quarterback or head coach in the NFL. Driving is a position of intelligence and leadership.

Meyers Taylor recalls: “I was part of a changing trend in the sport and to have more black and colored people in the front seats. “As a driver, you have more control over your destiny. As a brake (or pusher) in the rear, you don’t have much control over what happens.”

Although there are more black skiers today, including Lolo Jones, the sport has yet to have a steady history of racial acceptance. Follow arrive Guardians, former British Bobsleigh team coach Lee Johnston allegedly told an athlete in 2013 that, “Black riders don’t make good bobsleigh riders.” In a sport where technology is paramount, Meyers Taylor said at least one leading snowmobile maker allegedly refused to sell to Black pilots. They are said to have been quoted as saying, “If I wanted to see a monkey drive a sled, I would go to the zoo,” according to British sledding athlete Andrew Matthews.

She wrote a sharp and passionate regarding racism in sports, pointing to the previously listed crimes, among others – including a horrifying story involving police officers with her husband. She believes she has the qualifications and the respect to answer these questions.

“I feel like because of my success, because of my age, because I am quite respected in the sport, so I have the opportunity to speak up and because I really have a passion for trying to help other players. athletes as much as possible,” she said.

In addition, her desire to continue “sliding” comes from her desire to win, fulfill her dream of having her son on the podium with her, and continue to show Black Face in spaces where they are not normally present. None of that would have been possible without Vonetta Flowers in the right place and at the right time. Like the adage says, “You have to see it to believe it.”

Meyers Taylor explains: “I started sledding because I saw Vonetta Flowers, someone who looked like me, and then made it achievable. “If Vonetta doesn’t do it, I can’t say I will. I can’t say my parents would be watching if Vonetta wasn’t in there. So I think it’s very important that people see people like them. It makes all the difference in the world.”

Elana Meyers Taylor recently achieved the consecutive negative tests needed to compete. Like Vonetta Flowers and many others before her, she will continue her lineage in making a difference when seen by people who look like her.


See more stories from Presser – check out the intersection of racing and online sports.

https://www.dailydot.com/irl/elana-meyers-taylor-beijing-olympics/ Elana Meyers Taylor is US Bobsledding’s barrier defender

Jake Nichol

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