How U.S. Bobsledder Won Silver Medal Despite ‘Pretty Painful’ Achilles Tear: ‘I Just Went for It’

The night that U.S. boblsedder Elana Meyers Taylor won her second Olympic silver medal, she walked around afterward, speaking with reporters, without wearing shoes.

The medal around her neck signified her victory, but the cold ground against her feet was its own relief.

As Taylor, 33, later explained, she had raced in the women’s bobsled event at the 2018 Winter Olympics while dealing with a “small tear” in her left achilles tendon that she sustained just days before traveling to South Korea for the Games.

It doesn’t sound bad the way she describes it, until you ask her the kind of hurt she was feeling during the competition and after.

Taylor tells PEOPLE that on Wednesday night, when she earned silver with teammate Lauren Gibbs, the injury had gotten “pretty painful.” It got worse over the course of the two-day, four-race event, she says.

“On a scale from one to 10, it was probably about an eight when I ended the race,” she says. During a sit-down interview on Friday at the Procter & Gamble Family Home (she is sponsored by Pantene), she says the pain is about a six.

Taylor, a native of the Atlanta area, won a silver medal in bobsled at the 2014 Winter Games along with Lauryn Williams and an Olympic bronze four years before that with Erin Pac. She says she damaged her achilles during training in late January in Chula Vista, California, a week before arriving in Korea for the Olympics on Feb. 2.

“I really didn’t think it would be as bad as it was, and then we were treating it and it just wasn’t getting better and then we had training runs and I was like, ‘I can’t push ,’ ” Taylor says. “We tried the first training run to push, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this … I can’t sit in the sled.’ And I pride myself in a pretty high pain tolerance and it was just too bad.”

How did she push through? She had a lot of assistance and, along with her coaches and the medical staff, she adjusted to a new routine that still allowed her to train and compete without overdoing it.

“We had to change our schedule. I had to change the coach I normally walk with,” Taylor says. “We had to adapt everything and people were so willing to help me do whatever I needed to do. It was pretty cool.

Her attitude helped, too.

“I’m the person who’s all in, gonna go full-throttle at something,” she says. “I don’t know if you can be a bobsledder and not have that type of attitude — so yeah, I just went for it.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Her doctor assured her beforehand that the risks of a more severe injury, though present, were minimal.

“I was like, ‘Okay, so it’s gonna be painful, but we just gotta go after it anyways,’ ” she recalls. “I made that decision and I knew it going in it was gonna hurt, but at the end of the day I was gonna put on a show and we did.”

In contrast to her Olympic silver in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, Taylor says this second-place finish feels like a win.

“In Sochi I really felt like I was going out there and it was all about winning a gold medal, and so that last heat where it slipped away, I was driving not to lose … and I wasn’t happy with my performance,” she says. “Here, I threw down and I went toe-to-toe with the German who won and I really think it was a great performance and I loved every minute of it.”

She continues: “Specifically with the obstacles we had to overcome to get here, the death of my teammate Steve Holcomb and arriving in a wheelchair with my achilles injury, it’s incredible to walk away with any medal.”

There are more years to come, as Taylor says, “I haven’t even touched the surface as where I can be” as a bobsled pilot.

For now, though, she and husband Nic Taylor, a fellow bobsledder, are planning a vacation. She’d also like to start a family in this next Olympic cycle. “I’m gonna let my body heal and recover and figure out what we want to do from there,” she says.

After that it will be back to the track for Taylor, one of the few prominent women of color competing in winter sports and one of bobsled’s most visible U.S. athletes, who has been noted for her recruiting efforts.

“I feel a responsibility to spread my experience and spread the growth of sport also to promote diversity in the winter Olympics, a world that traditionally looks white, you know?” she says, adding, “If one little girl who looks like me picks up a winter sport because she sees me, that’s all anybody could ever ask for.”


PEOPLE.com

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The Best Gold Medal Celebrations of the 2018 Winter Olympics in GIFs

The 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang have been a wild ride from the start, with unbelievable upsets, do-or-die moments and come-from-behind victories constantly keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. But unfortunately for winter sports fans, all Olympics must come to an end.

The Games will officially conclude this weekend, with the produced broadcast of the closing ceremony set to air Sunday night on NBC at 8 p.m. E.T. — 14 hours after it actually takes place in South Korea. Leading up to the ceremony, there will be four final events to catch on Feb. 25, including men’s bobsledding, women’s cross-country skiing, women’s curling and men’s hockey.

But before the Winter Olympics wind down for another four years, let’s take a look back at some of the best gold medal celebrations. From snowboarder Red Gerard unexpectedly taking home Team USA’s first gold to Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue capping off a near-perfect week of ice dancing, here are a few of the Games’ most memorable—and GIF-able—moments of triumph.

Red Gerard: Men’s Slopestyle Snowboard

After falling on his first two attempts, the 17-year-old American went from last place to first place on his third and final run of the men’s slopestyle final to win Team USA’s first gold medal of the 2018 Games. Not to mention he also became the youngest Olympian of all time to medal in snowboarding.

Hanna Oeberg: Women’s Biathlon

Thanks to some immaculate shooting, Oeberg was able to pull off a major upset in the women’s 15km individual biathlon. The Swedish racer completed the event in in 41 minutes and 7.2 seconds to beat out Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, who was heavily favored after winning gold in the first two biathlon events.

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue: Ice Dancing

Ice dance darlings Moir and Virtue executed a near flawless free skate routine to cap off their extraordinary gold medal Olympic comeback. After taking home silver at the 2014 Sochi Games, the Canadian duo’s Moulin Rouge-themed program earned them an overall score world record in PyeongChang.

Yuzuru Hanyu: Men’s Figure Skating

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first men’s figure skater to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals since American skater Dick Button achieved the feat 66 years ago. And he had plenty of Winnie the Pooh bears thrown at him along the way.

Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall: Women’s Cross-Country Skiing

Diggins’ come-from-behind finish on the final straightaway of the women’s team sprint freestyle race gave her and teammate Randall only a .19 second margin of victory over their lauded Swedish competitors. But that was still enough for gold. The pair are the first-ever Americans to win an Olympic gold medal in cross-country skiing, an achievement that earned Diggins the spot of U.S. flag-bearer at the closing ceremony.

Ester Ledecká: Women’s Super-G Skiing

Despite the fact that she’s primarily a snowboarder, the Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecká beat out seasoned skiers like America’s Lindsay Vonn and Austria’s Anna Veith to win gold in the women’s super-G race. The look of shock on her face upon learning her score was the definition of priceless.

Sports – TIME

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‘They’ve Robbed Us of Our Moment of Glory’: Norway’s Curlers Want Their Own Medal Ceremony After Russian Doping Allegations

The Norwegian curlers who came in fourth at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games have described how they feel “robbed of their moment of glory,” following the doping charges against the Russian curling team who won bronze.

Norway’s team, Magnus Nedregotten and Kristin Skaslien, are asking the Winter Games organizers to hold a new medals ceremony before the Games end on Sunday, should the Russians be stripped of their bronze medal, according to reporting by The Guardian.

On Monday, Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who finished third in the mixed doubles with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, was charged after testing positive for meldonium.

In an interview with The Guardian, Nedregotten described how the “horrible” revelation had been “hard to accept.”

“Knowing that they may have had an advantage against us in our games through cheating feels horrible,” he said. “If he is found guilty, then they’ve robbed us of our moment of glory, receiving our medal in the stadium. That’s not cool. That’s hard to accept, feeling that you’ve been kept out of the light.

“Obviously he is not guilty before he is convicted. But it is confirmed, the preferred option for us would be to receive the bronze medal at some point during the remainder of the Olympics,” he added.

He also stressed the difference meldonium can make regarding stamina and concentration, following some scepticism about the affect of performance-enhancing drugs on curling.

“It’s quite hard for a male sweeper in mixed doubles. You have to follow and sweep every rock, and your muscles actually get quite sore and torn with all the work during that tight playing schedule,” he said.

“It especially could have benefited the Russians as they had a really late game when they lost their semi-final, and then they were playing early the next morning against us in the bronze match,” he added.


Entertainment – TIME

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Red Gerard Just Wants to Snowboard and Eat Burritos. And Win Another Olympic Gold Medal

Red Gerard is tired. Last weekend he won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. This week he’s all over the news talking about it. And next week, he’ll be back in South Korea to compete in the men’s big air snowboarding event.

The 17-year-old was the first American to win a gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Games and he’s become something of a legend after cameras captured him dropping the f-bomb while celebrating his slopestyle win. Fans adore his carefree approach to race day — news reports described how he binge-watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine the night before his first event, woke up late and lost his jacket, and then nailed it on the mountain.

Gerard is actually that calm about competing. “I mean I kind of just treat every contest like a normal day,” he explained to TIME in a video interview in between his Olympic events.

As for what’s next, he stifled a yawn and said, ‘I just want to hang out. I’m excited for all this media stuff to be over and just start snowboarding again.” He’s also looking forward to eating some burritos.

Sports – TIME

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Maryam Mirzakhani, First Woman to Receive the Prestigious Fields Medal, Dies at the Age of 40 After Breast Cancer Battle

Maryam Mirzakhani, the first and only woman to receive the Fields Medal – the highest honor in mathematics – has died at age 40 of breast cancer.

The Iranian-born mathematician was a trailblazer, shattering ceilings for women around the world when she was awarded the Fields Medal, which many view at the equivalent to the Noble Prize, in 2014 at age 37, Reuters reports.

Mirzakhani had been a professor at Stanford University since 2008. The university announced her death on their website.

“Maryam is gone far too soon, but her impact will live on for the thousands of women she inspired to pursue math and science,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in a statement.

“Maryam was a brilliant mathematical theorist, and also a humble person who accepted honors only with the hope that it might encourage others to follow her path. Her contributions as both a scholar and a role model are significant and enduring, and she will be dearly missed here at Stanford and around the world.”

The university also featured a quote of from the mathematician in a Twitter post, “You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math.”

 The mathematician came to the U.S. in 1999 to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University. Her research interests included the movement of billiard balls across surfaces and the theoretical study of complex geometric shapes, the Washington Post reported.

“She has a fearless ambition when it comes to mathematics,” her Harvard mentor, Curtis McMullen, a past Fields Medal winner, told Quanta Magazine in 2014.
In 2014, Mirzakhani received the Fields Medal, awarded by the International Congress of Mathematicians, for her work in the symmetry of curved surfaces. The coveted prize is awarded only every four years to honor mathematicians under 40 who make significant inroads in their respective studies.

Universities around the world, as well as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, have been paying tribute to the STEM icon. Iranian president Rouhani said that Mirzakhani’s “doleful passing” has caused “great sorrow,” Al-Jazeera reports.

Rouhani also posted a picture on Instagram of the mathematician – with and without a veil.

Firouz Naderi, a friend of Mirzakhani, and former director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, posted a picture with the touching caption, “A beautiful mind.” In another statement, he also called her a genius and a “daughter, a mother and a wife.”

RELATED VIDEO: The Incredible True Story of Henrietta Lacks, the Most Important Woman In Modern Medicine

Born in 1977 and raised in Tehran, Iran, she attended an all-girls high school in Iran, where she gained recognition as a teenager in the 1994 and 1995 competitions of the International Mathematical Olympiad.

“It is fun; it’s like solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case,” she said in 2014.


PEOPLE.com

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