Aja Evans ended her rookie year as a bobsled pusher with her best World Cup finish.
The Chicagoan did it Friday on the 2014 Winter Olympic track in a manner that bodes well for the chances of whichever sled she might push in Sochi, Russia, next winter.
Evans, a three-time Big Ten shotput champion at the University of Illinois, and Elana Meyers, the top U.S. woman driver, took the silver medal behind the German team of Sandra Kiriasis and Franziska Bertels.
Sliding in deteriorating ice conditions on another unseasonably warm day in Sochi, Meyers and Evans still laid down the fastest second run to move from fourth to second overall.
They had by far the fastest start times of the field in both runs on what Meyers described as a pushers’ track.
“Aja pushed us to medal contention,” said Meyers, who has won two straight world championship medals with Katie Eberling of Palos Hills as the pusher.
Eberling and Jamie Greubel were ninth Friday. Lolo Jones, who cut her hand moving sleds earlier in the week, and Jazmine Fenlator, driving despite a bad back, were 13th.
Evans was mourning her maternal grandfather, Lemorse Mallory, who died last Saturday at age 95 and had been instrumental in supporting her track and field career. Her mother, Sequocoria Mallory, insisted she stay in Russia to compete.
“My dad would have wanted her to do that,” Mallory said. “Finish what you start.”
"To pull through this week and finish out as strong as I did, I know there's much more in store for the Olympics,” Evans said via USA Bobsled. “My dream of being an Olympian feels very real now, and this experience has made me even hungrier. I hope to make my grandpa and my family proud."
Evans finished with medals in her final two World Cup races, having won bronze with Fenlator at Igls, Austria last month. They were eighth in the world championships.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times