The 'other' U.S. team makes history, taking first women's bobsled gold.
February 20, 2002 7:19 AM   Subscribe

The 'other' U.S. team makes history, taking first women's bobsled gold. "Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale, Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs, And solid pudding against empty praise." Alexander Pope (1742)
posted by Carol Anne (13 comments total)
Except that Bakken had also dumped a long-time partner for someone faster.

But yes, it was fun to watch Racine falter. . . .my 12 yo daughter introduced the word "karma" applied to this before we heard the TV commentator say that word.
posted by Danf at 7:27 AM on February 20, 2002

i watched this last night. its cool to see stuff like this happen.
posted by Qambient at 7:27 AM on February 20, 2002

Except that Bakken had also dumped a long-time partner for someone faster.

Where did you read that? From my understanding, that was the other US bobsled team: "Racine dumped her best friend and chose Johnson, a muscular former heptathlete from Arizona."
posted by jennak at 7:57 AM on February 20, 2002

Yes, but Bakken didn't dump her *best friend* and longtime partner by bloody *telephone* and then whine afterwards about how her ex wouldn't now give her the time of day -- that was Racine.

Bobsleighers do change partners frequently in an effort to improve. From what I hear, Bakken was upfront about everything and scheduled a "push-off" between her old partner and Flowers. Flowers won and became the new partner. Being dumped sucks -- and this must be especially galling for the old partner today -- but it seems to have been done as fairly as it's ever done in this sport.
posted by maudlin at 8:05 AM on February 20, 2002

jennak. . .my daughter's Sports Illustrated for Women had an article on the whole history of this. . .it's not available online though and I'm doing it from memory so I could be wrong, but here was a period of "musical brakemen" on several of those teams.

Another topic. . .does "brakeman" applied to women's bobsledding strike any of the women posting here as sexist? I see other instances, especially in women's hoops, where a player guards her "man" or they play "man" defense. . .

My wife always gets fried by this but it seems like it's accepted and no one is bothered. . it's just for convenience that the male identifier is used. And of course I can't comment one way or the other, given my gender.
posted by Danf at 8:08 AM on February 20, 2002

Except that Bakken had also dumped a long-time partner for someone faster.

This is a true statement. It goes like this: Flowers was dumped by Warner, another US driver. So Flowers temporarily quit. Then Bakken called Flowers and asked her to compete with Bakken's current partner to decide who Bakken would team up with.

The ~sordid~ details.

(on preview: I see that maudlin has already summarized this.)
posted by iceberg273 at 8:11 AM on February 20, 2002

I have a question about bobsledding.

Are the Brake(wo)men pretty much just ballast? I mean whenever they discuss the team they talk about the driver all the time. In all previous interviews (well, one really) with the gold winning team, they didn't even let Flowers say word one. Even last night, when she was speaking, half the time you couldn't hear what she was saying because the interviewer had the mike trained on Bakken.

Seems to me from watching the race that the brake(wo)man is very important at the starting push, and then spends the rest of the race hunkered down in the back of the sled, hoping the driver didn't have burritos for lunch.

Maybe I just need to know more about bobsledding than what I learned on the Matterhorn.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2002

OT: How long as it been the "bobsleigh". I always thought it was "bobsled".
posted by jpoulos at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2002

According to this page (and a couple of others I looked at), the brakemen are important for getting the sleigh up to speed as they run and push longer than the driver. During the ride, they pretty well function as ballast, and once the run is complete, they apply the brakes.

I'm going to ease up on Racine a bit. From what I've read, she's had a horrible year with her family. Her Mum, who helped fund raise for her by selling chocolates from door to door, died 9 months ago. Her father is in jail on sexual assault charges.

I suspect that well-publicized poor treatment of her partner -- denying any possible changes until just before it happened, leading to her partner's inability to find anyone else to hook up with -- was probably at least partially due to this turmoil and reluctance to hurt one of the few people she had left who was still close to her. Delay, delay, delay saying or doing anything to hurt a friend -- until she finally did it too badly, too impersonally, and too late, and hurt her more than if she had been able to summon the courage to do i right in the first place.
posted by maudlin at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2002

In the early days the non-drivers (up to five of them) would bob back and forth, until it was discovered that this only slowed the sled down. Now I believe they're mainly there for the push speed at the start. I think they should reintroduce the bobbing, perhaps set to music, for the sake of spectacle.

The first organised race was held in 1898 on the Cresta Run, which I've ridden, very cautiously, on a tobbogan.
posted by liam at 8:56 AM on February 20, 2002

jpoulos . . . in the US we sled, in the rest of the world they sleigh . .
posted by donovan at 10:19 AM on February 20, 2002

call me an ugly American but I like sled in an olympic sport better.

eg: my girlfriend has a sleigh bed, reindeers wear sleigh bells, Buffy is a vampire sl.. never mind

Rock on, Vonetta, if they put you on a Wheaties box i will definately buy it.
posted by tsarfan at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2002

iceberg's link is to a story written by a former Olympic bobsledder. It really puts the whole controversy in context, and shows that the Racine-Davidson melodrama is really quite normal in this sport.
posted by dhartung at 2:02 PM on February 20, 2002

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