The first time Lolo Jones went hurdling down the ice in a bobsled, she was ready to quit. After the run, she looked around for an ambulance, just in case, she told the Associated Press.
But a few runs later, the Olympic hurdler had found a new athletic love, and now calls her time in the bobsled’s back seat “a thrill.”
Although Jones’ foray into the sport is now merely a few weeks old, her commitment to learning the art of bobsled pushing in Lake Placid, NY. earned her the skill and reputation required for a position on the U.S. bobsled team.
Jones was among 16 women vying for a spot as a push athlete. Six were chosen for the team based on a combine test and results from the summer push championship and team selection races. Other factors included the past year's results and input from bobsled drivers and coaches.
"These three weeks, I've gotten to know her as an athlete,” U.S. women's bobsled coach Todd Hays told the Associated Press. “And she surprised me every day with how dedicated she is. The one word I keep coming back to is, she's such a competitor. She cannot accept not being good at something. She gets up earlier than everybody else, goes to bed later, constantly trying to get better."
Jones is now one of 24 women on the team. To secure a spot in the World Cup circuit this winter or the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, she will need to be one of the top three push athletes.
For Jones, the decision couldn't have come at a better time.
"This is a breath of fresh air — cool, very cool, cold air," she said.
Jones' success comes after several disappointing experiences. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jones was the gold-medal favorite, but came in seventh after hitting a hurdle. This summer in London, she once again missed the podium with a fourth place finish and was criticized by some teammates for receiving so much media attention without the success to back it up.
Other athletes to make the U.S. team include 2010 Olympic bobsledder Emily Azevedo, world championship medalist Katie Eberling and three other track-and-field athletes: Tianna Madison, Aja Evans and Cherrelle Garrett.
Jones still plans to compete in hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.