Schaaf’s an Olympian: ‘I Dreamed About This But Now It’s Really Real.’

Bree Schaaf’s 11th place finish in a World Cup bobsled race on Saturday in St. Moritz, Switzerland was good enough to clinch a spot in next month’s 2010 Olympics. We’ll do our best to contact the Bremeton athlete. For now, here’s the the press release from the USA Bobsled and Skeleton team, which quotes an obviously happy Bree:

Rohbock Leads U.S.; Schaaf Earns Olympic Berth 

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland- Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) led the U.S. women’s bobsled team in today’s St. Moritz, Switzerland World Cup event with a fifth place finish. Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) maintained her status as the second ranked third sled among nations with an eleventh place finish to earn her first Olympic berth.

“Today’s race was won by only one-hundredth of a second,” said Rohbock.  “The competition is definitely picking up as we get closer to February.  Every week is a challenge, and next month won’t get any easier.  I’m excited that we qualified three sleds, because I think all of us are competitive and have a chance to do well.”

Germans swept the podium in a closely contested race today.  Cathleen Martini teamed with Romy Logsch to lead the field by only one-hundredth with a combined time of two minutes, 14.89 seconds.  Reiginig Olympic Champion Sandra Kiriasis partnered with Christin Senkel for a total time of 2:14.90 to claim silver, while Claudia Schramm and Berit Wiacker slid a combined time of 2:15.07 for bronze.

“I’m a little nervous going into the Olympics because I think the Germans are gaining momentum,” said Rohbock.  “Their push times are getting faster, they have aerodynamic sleds, and they will be tough to beat.  But, you never know what will happen at the Olympics.  It’s always unpredictable.”

Rohbcok teamed with Michelle Rzepka (Novi, Mich.) for identical start times of 5.64 seconds and runs of 1:07.87 and 1:07.70.  The duo clocked a combined time of 2:15.57 seconds on the naturally refrigerated course for fifth place.

Only two nations are granted three sleds in the women’s bobsled 2010 Olympic competition.  Germany locked up the first spot earlier in the season based on points, but the second nation to qualify a third sled was a battle between Canadian Amanda Stepenko and U.S. pilot Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) today.  Schaaf entered this weekend with an 80-point lead over Stepenko, but still needed to post two solid runs to secure her qualification. 

“Stepenko is one of my favorite people on tour,” said Schaaf.  “I can always count on her to laugh at my jokes, and she’s been a great friend.  Last week she told me I’ve been doing an amazing job this year and driving really well.  I almost cried.  Here we are battling to qualify, and she takes the time to let me know I’m doing a good job.”

Schaaf slid to the finish with a combined time of 2:16.46 for 11th place, while Stepenko crossed the line with a two-run total of 2:17.49 for 15th.  Schaaf surpassed the Canadian pilot on a track she’s never driven a bobsled on to earn her Olympic qualification as the third sled for the U.S.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” said Schaaf.  “Nothing compares to the amount of anxiety I felt over the last two races.  Going to the Olympics will feel like going home, but I had to get there first by driving a new track every week. I can’t believe I get to walk in opening ceremonies.  I dreamed about this, but now it’s really real.”

Schaaf teamed with Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.), who helped push the pilot to start times of 5.79 and 5.74 for runs of 1:08.01 and 1:08.45, respectively.  The U.S. pair was in seventh after the first heat but fell back into 11th after Schaaf made a driving error exiting the pivotal corner named Horseshoe. 

“I was one-hundred times more nervous for that second run than I was for the first,” said Schaaf.  “We were excited and ready to go for the first run, but the second run I felt a wave of fear.  I don’t know where it came from, but I almost blew up out of Horseshoe.  I’m surprised I still have bunks on the left side of the sled.”

Nation quotas and the Olympic roster will be officially announced tomorrow, but the U.S. has secured a third sled for women’s bobsled at the 2010 Olympics based on world-rank points.

Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.) had some difficulty with the natural-made course in her first run, posting a run of 1:09.04 for 17th position.  Teamed with Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.), team Pac burst off the start in 5.64 seconds and bettered their finish time by over one second with a run of 1:08.03 to move up four places.  The duo clocked a total time of 2:16.95 to finish 13th.

Visit www.UniversalSports.com to find local television listings for the St. Moritz event as well as additional information, including video and photos, about bobsled and skeleton. 

The USBSF appreciates your support.  Please visit www.SharetheRideUSA.com to make a donation and have your name on a national team sled for one season.  For updates on the team throughout the season, follow USBSF on Twitter or log onto www.USBSF.com.  Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at (518) 523-1842, ext. 106, or at abird@usbsf.com for any questions regarding the U.S. team.

Results:

1. Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch (GER) 2:14.89 (1:07.56, 1:07.33); 2. Sandra Kiriasis and Christin Senkel (GER) 2:14.90 (1:07.41, 1:07.49); 3. Claudia Schramm and Berit Wiacker (GER) 2:15.07 (1:07.59, 1:07.48);…5. Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka (USA) 2:15.57 (1:07.87, 1:07.70);…11. Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo (USA) 2:16.46 (1:08.01, 1:08.45);…13. Erin Pac and Elana Meyers (USA) 2:17.07 (1:09.04, 1:08.03);

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