Chicagoan Aja Evans, in her rookie season as a bobsled pusher, earned her first World Cup medal Friday in Igls, Austria.
With the fastest time of the 20 sleds in the second run, Evans and driver Jazmine Fenlator took third overall , just five-hundredths of a second from winners Sandra Kiriasis and Fraziska Bertels of Germany.
"Bronze baby, only the beginning," Evans tweeted.
Evans, a three-time Big Ten shotput champion at Illinois and a sprint-shot star at Morgan Park High School, joined the USA Bobsled program last summer.
In a Tribune story last October, U.S. women's national team coach Todd Hays looked at Evans as a future star.
"Her upside is tremendous," Hays said. "By this time next year, Aja will set an entirely new standard for women's bobsled."
Thursday's result virtually assures Evans, 24, a place in one of the U.S. sled for the Jan. 25-26 World Championships in St.Moritz, Switzerland.
Katie Eberling of Palos Hills, a bronze medal pusher at last year's worlds, finished fifth Friday with Elana Meyers, the top-rated U.S. driver. They likely will be together again at the worlds.
Two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones did not compete Friday. She and Emily Azevedo are in the running for the final push spot at worlds.
In three previous World Cup races this season, pushing for three different drivers, Evans had finished ninth, 13th and 8. Last week, she and Meyers had broken the start records for the Konigsee, Germany track in both runs.
"Aja really helped me stay calm," Fenlator said Friday. "She's a great support, and pushed some fast times today. She hadn't been on the podium yet, so I was eager to get her there."
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