Briauna Jones is going to South Korea as a member of the U.S. Bobsled team at the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics.
But not as a competitor.
The former UNC Charlotte track star turned bobsled brakeman was named Saturday as an alternate, who can substitute for competing athletes during training runs and is eligible to compete in the case of an injury or illness.
“Six push athletes have been battling it out week after week and winning medals on the World Cup circuit this year, but we only have two spots for the Games,” USA Bobsled CEO Darrin Steele in a statement from St. Moritz, Switzerland, site of this week’s World Cup event. “We don’t take this decision light-heartedly.
“The selection committee chose the athletes they think have the best chance of bringing home hardware from Korea for Team USA. I wish we could take the entire team with us because they’ve all proven how hard-working and determined they are in addition to being incredibly talented.”
Elana Meyers Taylor and Jamie Greubel Poser were named as the pilots for the two U.S. sled that will compete in PyeongChang. Lauren Gibbs was chosen for the spot in the back of Meyers Taylor’s sled, while 2014 Olympic bronze medal teammates Greubel Poser and Aja Evans will once again be paired together.
Jones would almost certainly have earned a spot as a participant had the U.S. qualified a third sled for the Olympics. But Canada edged the Americans out in the Saturday’s World Cup event to become the final nation with three entries in PyeongChang.
Even though she won’t be in the running for a medal in this Olympic cycle, Jones’ selection as an alternate caps an amazing rise in which the North Carolinian earned a spot on the national team just months after beginning the sport. She won her first World Cup medal, a gold with Meyers Taylor, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last year and was named last season’s USABS Rookie of the Year. Her relative lack of international experience, however, likely played a role in her choice as an alternate rather than a competitor.
A number of components were considered by the selection committee in choosing U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled roster. Among them are combine test and U.S. National Push Championship results, U.S. National Team Trials finishes, driver input, proven international experience with a history of results and team combinations working well together, trend of push times, start rank and velocity, and current season results.