Elana Myers wanted to be first. Just not like this.
Meyers crashed the USA-1 sled on Friday while taking her first bobsled trip down the Sanki Sliding Center track, hardly the kind of start the medal favorite wanted to have at the Sochi Games.
Neither Meyers nor alternate brakeman Katie Eberling, riding in place of Lauryn Williams, were injured in the mishap near the bottom of the world's longest track.
"That is not a fun ride," Meyers said with a laugh afterward. "BMW sleds are awesome when they are on all four (runners). They are not fun when they are on their heads. I was the first one to crash one, and now that we've gotten that out of the way, it withheld the test. I'm glad we could figure that out. It's amazingly OK, and we were still fast in the second run and it's good to go."
USA-1 was the only one of 20 sleds not to finish the first training run. Meyers and Eberling were third fastest in their second run, completing the course in 58.11 seconds. Only the Canada-1 and Russia-1 sleds were faster.
Myers explained she was late going into the 16th of 17 curves, touched the sled on the side wall and crashed.
"It shot straight down and tossed me over," she said. "Not fun."
Following the mishap, Meyers and Eberling were checked by members of the U.S. team's medical staff near the spot where they wrecked. They rode in the back of a truck with their sled to the top of the track and were evaluated again before taking their second run. The U.S. team plans to use alternates during training to keep its top pushers fresh.
A brakeman on the 2010 team, Meyers, from Douglasville, Ga., has crashed plenty of times before. She's learned the only way to erase the accident from her mind is to get back in the sled and go again.
"The cool thing about bobsled is that there's that danger and that risk in every single corner," she said. "I get to say, 'I crashed, I took it to the face, but I'm going to face my fear, go back up there and do it again. I'm going to go through curve 16 and I'm going to nail it.'"
The women's bobsled competition begins next week and the Americans have a chance to win multiple medals.
The crash came a day after a track worker was struck by a speeding bobsled and broke both his legs. The unidentified Russian man underwent surgery and is doing well, Sochi organizers said.
Meyers said the U.S. team remains unified after some drama following the selection of the six athletes who will slide in the games and the decisions on how push athletes are paired with drivers.
Meyers is teamed with Williams, a newcomer to bobsled who helped the U.S. win the 4x100-meter relay at the London Games two years ago. Jamie Greubel of Newtown, Pa. is piloting USA-2 with brakeman Aja Evans of Chicago, and Jazmine Fenlator of Wayne, N.J. is driving USA-3 with Lolo Jones, seeking redemption after failing to medal in hurdles at the Beijing and London Games.
The selection of Jones, from Des Moines, Iowa, over Eberling was followed by speculation about who would ride with whom. But now that the U.S. team's lineup has been set and competition is nearing, Meyers said there's nothing to worry about.
"It was definitely a relief because I knew there was a possibility that I could push with any one of the three," shed said. "I know they are all great athletes and just to find out who I would race with was a huge relief. I'm confident in the coach's decisions and I'm confident that whoever is behind my sled, we're going to have a fast push."