It could have been three American bobsleds, not two, in contention for women's 2-man bobsled medals.
If not for a bad choice on the part of the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
After all, USA-1 pilot Elana Meyers and brakeman Lauryn Williams, the most experienced of the bobsledders, are currently in first place with a two-heat time of 1:54.89, .23 seconds ahead of Canada-1 pilot Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse and .56 ahead of USA-2 pilot Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans, a Chicago native.
Where are the third American team...former Olympic track star Lolo Jones and and pilot Jazmine Fenlator? They are currently in 11th of 19 bobsleds heading into Wednesday's final two heats. On Tuesday, their first heat brought them in 58.27 seconds. In the second heat, they were .19 seconds slower at 58.46.
“Everything went as expected,” Jones told the Washington Post. “We knew we would have to fight. We knew it would be four tough runs.”
She expected to come in 11th? I don't think that's why the Federation picked her.
Though anything can happen in the final two heats on Wednesday, Jones and Fenlator, according to USA Today and other media outlets, are unlikely to medal here.
Why blame Jones?
Actually, I blame the Federation, not so much Jones. They made two critical errors:
1) The Federation went for better publicity, not a better pushman
Yep my heart is hurting and moments like these I just praise and worship God. This song on repeat pic.twitter.com/eOIMGU0mBy
In this case, Jones was selected over the blonde, beautiful, and experienced Palos Hills native Katie Eberling. She was an immediate favorite for the Olympic team after claiming the 2011 U.S. National Push Champion title in her rookie season. Eberling, 25, was left off the team despite three bronze-medal finishes in four World Cup races this season. She was the national team’s most decorated brakeman and the reigning world silver medalist in the two-woman bobsled. She won three bronze medals on the World Cup circuit this season and finished second behind Evans at the national push championships, which clock how fast athletes can thrust the sleds off the starting line.
Yes, Jones had two silver medals in four bobsled races, and ultimately bobsled officials liked Jones' chances. She's also 'hot,' she's charismatic, she's a Christian, reportedly a virgin, and has achieved worldwide fame for her looks, her omnipresence on social media, and her ability to bounce back from failure. The Des Moines, Iowa native has a sad backstory, which always makes for good press.
And now, she's a two-sport Olympian. More good press.
But she's failed in heavy competition for any Olympic medal, let alone a gold.
The former U.S. track star missed bronze by a 10th of a second in the women's 100-meter hurdles in the London Olympics in 2012, taking fourth place in her second attempt at the Summer Games. Her poor showing at the 2012 Olympics kept her out of the "world class runner" tag she has long desired.
She won indoor national titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the 60 m hurdles, with gold medals at the World Indoor Championship in 2008 and 2010. She was favored to win the 100 m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but tripped on the penultimate hurdle, finishing in seventh place. She went on to win silver at the 2008 World Athletics Final.
2) They went with inexperience in USA-3
To earn her silver medal, Jones was paired with Elana Meyers, arguably the best of all drivers in US bobsled history. How much push was actually necessary?
Paired with Fenlator, their chances were weakened considerably.
Why would they have paired these two? Well, the bobsled federation cuts itself a wide berth when picking the Olympic team. The vaguely worded nominating procedures state that athletes should be selected based on current season results, past performance, push times, work ethic and driver input.
In her seven years as a 'slider,' Fenlator's best finish was a silver during the 2012-13 season in Lake Placid, and a 5th in Park City. She ran track at Rider University where her coach encouraged her to try a bobsled camp after graduation.
Maybe on paper, the team looked like they could maybe muster a respectable run. But both lack the experience to win big in such an important event.
Yes, we have our publicity. But we also want our medals. Go USA?
But Elana Meyers, who I'm predicting will win gold on Wednesday, played the peacemaker on her Facebook page:
"In a sport where medals are won and lost by hundredths of a second, it is very important to analyze all the numbers and make the best decision to try to win Olympic medals for our country. Everyone may not agree with the decision, but the fact of the matter is, the numbers supported the selection committee's decision and 3 athletes were chosen. The three that were chosen have worked hard to earn there spots, and I am proud to call them my Olympic teammates. "