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U.S. Olympic bobsled team does not include medal-winning push athletes, Lolo Jones

Pyeongchang 2018 - bobsleigh

20 February 2018, South Korea, Pyeongchang, Olympics, bobsleigh, two-woman seld, Alpensia Sliding Centre: Pilot Elana Meyers Taylor and pusher Lauren Gibbs from the USA in action. Photo: Tobias Hase/dpa (Photo by Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images)

picture alliance via Getty Image

Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries lead the U.S. Olympic bobsled team, looking to drive to more medals in Beijing.

Olympic medalist push athletes Lauren Gibbs and Aja Evans were not selected to race in China. Neither was Lolo Jones, a Winter and Summer Olympian who was bidding for one more Games as a push athlete at age 39.

A U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton federation selection committee instead went with athletes with no Olympic experience -- Sylvia Hoffman and Kaysha Love. Evans was named an alternate.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

Hoffman and Love received the most World Cup starts among the U.S. push athletes this season, including at the last two World Cups, a sign that they were preferred by the coaching staff.

The Olympic selection committee is made up of one of those coaches and four other people.

They went with younger athletes over the more decorated Gibbs (2018 Olympic silver medalist with Meyers Taylor), Evans (2014 Olympic bronze medalist, two-time Olympian) and Jones (world champion last season with Humphries).

Meyers Taylor, who on Sunday wrapped up the World Cup season title, eyes her first Olympic gold after bronze in 2010 and silvers in 2014 and 2018. She returned to competition last season after having son Nico on Feb. 22, 2020. Her husband, Nic, was named an alternate push athlete for the men’s team.

Humphries won gold in 2010 and 2014 driving for Canada, then switched to the U.S. after filing harassment and abuse claims against a Canadian program coach Todd Hays, a 2002 Olympic silver medalist for the U.S. She is married to an American and gained citizenship on Dec. 2, becoming eligible for the U.S. Olympic team.

German drivers Laura Nolte, Kim Kalicki and Mariama Jamanka will be tough competition in Beijing.

Nolte led the World Cup with four wins this season and likely would have won the season title if the Germans didn’t skip a stop in Latvia earlier this month. Kalicki was right behind her. Nolte and Jamanka, the surprise 2018 Olympic champion, went one-two in a race at the Yanqing Olympic track in October.

Meyers Taylor and Humphries have been stronger this season in the new Olympic women’s bobsled discipline of monobob. They rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world. Jamanka, though, won the race on the Olympic track in October.

First-time Olympians Hunter Church and Frank Del Duca will drive the U.S. two- and four-man bobsleds that are underdogs for medals.

Church, a 25-year-old, third-generation bobsledder who grew up an hour north of Lake Placid, is the only U.S. male driver to make a World Cup podium in this Olympic cycle, doing so twice in four-man, including on Jan. 9. He was the highest-ranked U.S. men’s driver on the World Cup this season at 10th in four-man.

Del Duca, 30, switched from pushing to driving after missing the 2018 Olympics and earned his spot this year despite not racing World Cup until the last two stops. He gobbled up points with podium finishes in all 16 of his starts on the lower-level North American Cup.

The Olympic men’s push athletes include 2018 Olympians Hakeem Abdul Saboor (a former bodybuilder) and Carlo Valdes (a former UCLA wide receiver). They’re joined by Olympic rookies Kris Horn, Jimmy Reed, Charlie Volker and Josh Williamson.

German Francesco Friedrich is an overwhelming Olympic favorite in both two- and four-man, having won 14 of his 16 World Cup starts this season.

ON HER TURF: Competitive battle for U.S. women’s push athlete spots

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