How does a girl from Los Angeles prepare for a spot on the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team? By playing volleyball at Brown, of course.
Lauren Gibbs, a captain of the Brown women’s volleyball team in 2005, and driver Elana Meyers Taylor not only made it to the PyeongChang Games, on Wednesday they rode to a silver medal. After four runs the pair had a cumulative time of 3:22.52, only 7-hundreths of a second behind German’s gold-medal time of 3:22:45.
The Denver post reported that Jillion Potter, a U.S. rugby Olympian in 2016, noticed Gibbs training at a CrossFit center in Denver in 2014 and encouraged her to pursue bobsledding. Gibbs, a regional sales director for a Denver men’s clothing company, passed a bobsled combine in Colorado Springs that summer and went to bobsled drving school in Lake Placed three weeks later. The rest is history.
Gibbs is Brown’s first female medalist in the Winter Olympics outside of hockey and ninth overall. The others are Pam Dreyer, Kim Insalaco, Kathleen Kauth, Tara Mounsey, Katie King and Becky Kellar in women’s ice hockey, Don Whitson n men’s ice hockey and Charles Butler in bobsled.
Brown recruited Gibbs for track – she played soccer and volleyball and participated in track in high school -- but when she arrived in Providence she decided to play volleyball. She was second-team All-Ivy in 2004 and 2005 and still ranks fourth in career kills (1,090) 12 years after graduating. She was also academic All-Ivy as a senior.
Gibbs’s track genes make her a natural as a pusher in bobsled. The start is all about power and speed. Medals are won and lost at the top of the track, which is why team managers and coaches for some time have recruited sprinters in the hope of improving push times. Evan Weinstock, 26, of Las Vegas, a four-time Ivy League champion in the decathlon while at Brown, is a pusher on the U.S. Men’s Olympic team. He and Justin Olsen finished 14th in the two-man and will be back on the ice for the four-man competition on Friday.
Gibbs, 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, will turn 34 on March 2. According to her bio on the Team USA website, this is her fourth season on the World Cup circuit and her first Olympics. She won a bronze medal with Meyers Taylor at the 2016 World Championships, and the pair also won a World Cup race in Switzerland in 2016. Last November Gibbs and Jamie Greubel Poser finished first in a World Cup race at Park City.
According to nbcolympics.com, Gibbs has an MBA from Pepperdine University and has worked in sales.