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Olympics notebook: Rochester graduate Lauryn Williams picked for bobsled team

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Jamie Greubel (left) and Lauryn Williams of the United States celebrate on the podium after winning the two-women Bob World Cup race in Innsbruck, Austria, on Sunday, Jan. 19. 2014.

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Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 8:54 p.m.
 

Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams have been to the Olympics competing in the Summer Games as track stars.

Now, they're going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month as members of the U.S. bobsled team. They will become the ninth and 10th Americans to compete in the Summer and Winter games.

Jones, Williams and Aja Evans made the team as push athletes/brakemen and will join pilots Elana Meyers, Jamie Greubel and Jazmine Fenlator in Sochi.

“It's really exciting,” said Williams, a Rochester graduate. “I've enjoyed the challenge of the steep learning curve. It hasn't sunk in yet that there is more to go and that the podium is where we're headed for in Sochi.”

Athletes were informed that they had made the team Sunday in Igls, Austria, at the team's hotel after World Cup races.

“We know what it's like to be at a Summer Olympics,” Jones said. “But we want to make sure we're the most helpful and supportive for our pilots, and hopefully we can have the best performance (in Sochi).”

Brakeman Katie Eberling was left off the team despite three bronze-medal finishes in four World Cup races this season. Jones had two silver medals in four races, and ultimately, bobsled officials liked Jones' chances.

“We knew heading into the season that the Olympic selection was going to be extremely difficult,” United States Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said in a statement. “It's a good problem to have, but it meant that some outstanding athletes would not make the Olympic team.”

It is a decision that will receive scrutiny and one that the athletes took personally.

“It was hard to hear the announcement and know that girls you've been rocking with the entire season, half of them staying and half of them are going,” Evans said.

Williams, a gold medalist at the 2012 Games, might be the biggest surprise. She didn't take her first run in a bobsled until July.

“I joined bobsled just to be a helper and add positive energy to the team,” Williams. “If my name wasn't called, I wasn't going to be upset. I've enjoyed this journey. I've enjoyed getting to know everyone.”

On the men's side, pilots Steve Holcomb, an Olympic gold medalist in Vancouver, Nick Cunningham and Cory Butner will enter sleds in the two-man race in Sochi. Holcomb and Cunningham will race in the four-man event.

Shaun White locks up halfpipe spot

Shaun White's quest for a historic three-peat is on.

The two-time Olympic halfpipe gold medalist will lead the U.S. team into Sochi for next month's Winter Games. White received an automatic berth on the four-man team by winning the final qualifying event with a score of 96.6 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

White will be joined by 2010 Olympian Greg Bretz and Olympic newcomers Danny Davis and Taylor Gold.

Kelly Clark will make her fourth Olympic appearance. The 2002 champion will be joined by 2006 gold medalist Hannah Teter, who was a discretionary pick by the selection committee. Kaitlyn Farrington and Arielle Gold also were selected.

Taylor and Arielle Gold are siblings.

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