Lolo Jones sure is going to make USA women's Olympics bobsled selections intriguing.
It shouldn't be any other way with Jones involved.
After sitting out Friday's World Cup race in Park City, Utah, Jones, a brakeman/push athlete, and pilot Jamie Greubel finished tied for second at a World Cup race Saturday.
"It feels really good," Jones said. "The thing with bobsled, you never know when you're going to be on the podium or how long it's going to be until you get back on again. It really makes you cherish the moments when you are."
It was another outstanding day for the U.S. women. After going 1-3-4 in Friday's race, they went gold-silver-silver led by first-place Elana Meyers-Aja Evans. Jazmine Fenlator and Lauryn Williams, a track star just like Jones, were tied for second.
Jones did not participate in Friday's race as U.S. bobsled coaches experiment with different combinations in the sled trying to determine the best push athletes and who works best with whom.
"We have a great group of athletes and we want to find out where people stand earlier in the season so we can dial in later in the season and give everyone an opportunity to race," Fenlator said.
Jones did not she know was racing on Saturday until Friday's races were completed.
"That was emotional stress that I had to deal with this week," Jones said. "I was glad when it was finally like, 'You're racing. Let's go.' "
Jones is not guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team even if the U.S. qualifies three women's sleds for Sochi Winter Games in February. But she had an impressive performance Saturday after finishing tied for 15th with pilot Jazmine Fenlator in last week's World Cup race in Calgary.
The first two teams appear set. Meyers and Evans have been outstanding in the first three World Cup races, winning gold on Friday, gold on Saturday and a silver last week in Calgary.
Greubel and Katie Eberling have two bronzes - one on Friday and one in Calgary.
It appears Jones is competing with Emily Azevedo and Williams for the third spot on Fenlator's sled.
After three World Cup races, Azevedo, Williams and Jones have had similar results. Jones finished 15th in Calgary and second in Park City. Azevedo was fourth in Park City on Friday and Williams second Saturday.
Those finishes require closer inspection, specifically the start times. The start is the initial portion of the race where athletes use power and speed to push the sled before jumping in for a hairy 80-mph ride on the track.
Once in the sled, the push athlete doesn't do much but keep her head down while the pilot tries to navigate the fastest line to the finish. After the finish, the push athlete is responsible for activating the braking mechanism used to slow the sled.
Jones finished behind Evans, Eberling, Williams and Azevedo at the national push championships in August. It is a deep field.
"You can go down the line past our top six. Our top 10 women are probably the best in the world," Azevedo said.
Comparing start times of five U.S. push athletes at this season's World Cup races:
- Jones with Fenlator in Calgary: 5.67 and 5.61 and 15 th -place finish; with Greubel in Park City: 5.34 and 5.26 and second-place finish. Said Greubel: "I know Lolo pushed her guts out today, and I wouldn't expect anything less from the other brakemen."
- Eberling with Greubel in Calgary: 5.62 and 5.62 and a third-place finish; with Greubel in Park City: 5.28 and 5.30 and a third-place finish.
- Evans with Meyers in Calgary: 5.55 and 5.47 and second-place finish; in two races (four heats) with Evans in Park City: 5.16 and 5.16 (first-place finish) and 5.22 and 5.15 (first-place finish).
- Azevedo with Fenlator in Park City: 5.30 and 5.29 and fourth-place finish.
- Williams with Fenlator in Park City 5.31 and 5.24 and a second-place finish.
These aren't precise comparisons because track conditions vary and might be better or worse for some teams, affecting times. But it shows times are reasonably close and the competition strong.
Hundredths of seconds don't seem like a lot, but in the world of sliding sports, it can be the difference between gold and silver or medal or no medal.
Jones is scheduled to travel overseas after Christmas for the European portion of the World Cup circuit which leads into the Sochi Olympics.
The team will be announced after the World Cup race in Igles, Austria on Jan. 19.
"It keeps us on edge because we can easily be replaced by one of your teammates," Jones said. "We've got to work hard."
Jones' foray into bobsledding has not been without controversy. She was involved this summer in an altercation with the stepdaughter of local bobsled insider Tony Carlino at a Lake Placid bar. The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation concluded Jones did not violate any team rules.
Jones also posted a video on Vine complaining about her check for $741.81 from USBSF and saying, "Seven months with bobsled season. The whole season. That's it."
That initially angering other bobsledders who are used to minimal salaries and not used to the endorsement money Jones has received. Jones, also a track and field star, said she was supporting other bobsledders and trying to bring to light how little they are paid.
On Thursday, Jones tweeted "Bobsled has two races this week. We have only announced brakeman for one of the races to play Jedi mind tricks with others."
It was either serious irritation or playful jabbing. Either way, Jones has tried to fit in with bobsledders. She does the same grunt work as others, unloading and loading heavy sleds onto trucks and packing fans unpacking gear.
When approached for an interview on Friday before the start of a race in which she was not participating, Jones declined, saying it was her responsibility to help those racing and it would be disrespectful to shirk her duties.
What will Jones' responsibilities be in Sochi? Racing for a medal? Helping teammates? Or not there at all?