Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf was a close fourth — .03 seconds out of third — during a U.S. bobsled trials selection race at Park City, Utah, on Friday.
The national team was announced today and Schaaf, a fifth-place finisher at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., was not on it. I’m not sure what this means to her career. The U.S. will send three teams out on the World Cup circuit and two of those teams, and possibly a third depending on how they perform during the World Cup, will represent the U.S. at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February. During an interview with me earlier this month, Schaaf indicated that the odds of making it to the Olympics without being on the World Cup team were terribly slim. It would probobly take an injury to one of the drivers — Elana Meyers, Jamie Greubel or Jazmine Fenalator — or a series of really bad performances by one of those drivers in order for Schaaf to get back on the team.
“There’s a roundabout chance,” she said, “but that’s kind of counting on things going badly for another person, and that’s not how you want to live your life … you never want your success to depend on someone else’s misfortune.”
Here’s a link to a story about Friday’s selection races. You’ll notice that Schaaf’s teammate from the 2010 Olympics, Emily Azevedo, was on the winning sled Friday and is one of six push athletes named to the team. Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams, former track and field stars, are also on the team as push athletes. Williams, a bobsled rookie, was paired with Schaaf for both selection races — the one at Park City and the previous race at Lake Placid two weeks ago where they also finished fourth.
In the men’s four-man bobsled trials, former North Kitsap state 100-meter champion Dak Kongela was part of a team that placed sixth at Friday’s selection races. Kongela’s relatively new to the sport so maybe he’ll have a chance to make it to a future Olympics if he sticks with bobsled.
When I talked to Schaaf, the Olympic High grad was so focused on the bobsled trails that she didn’t have time to think about what life would be like without the sport. She’s got so many talents, it’s hard to predict what she’ll be doing next. If you’ve read any of her Team USA blogs, you know she’s a wonderful writer with a great wit and sense of humor. She’s a versatile musician, artist, goldsmith, and even served as a broadcaster on the World Cup circuit. After all of these years of training, she’s certainly qualified to be a personal trainer.
And it wouldn’t surprise me if the former Portland State volleyball player continues to slide down those tracks in a bobsled, chasing her dream. It’s not beneath her to go back down to the minor leagues of her sport and keep her skills sharp, just in case something does happen between now and Sochi. She has accumulated so much knowledge and is such an inspiring athlete, it also wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation kept her around in some sort of coaching/training role.