On Tuesday, Feb. 20 in PyeongChang, South Korea, the women's bobsled team made its long-awaited first appearance at the Olympics, and the video of the Jamaican bobsled team's Olympic debut is an inspiring historic document. The Jamaican team hasn't been slated as a frontrunner for the podium, but it's the fact of the athletes being there that matters. The women's team from the island nation made the most of their first appearance on this international stage.
No matter how the Jamaican women's bobsled team competed, they were going to make history. This is the first-ever women's bobsled team from Jamaica. Now, if you remember your Cool Runnings history, you'll know that the first-ever bobsled team from Jamaica was a men's team, who made their debut way back in 1988. Since then, the Jamaican men's bobsled team has made regular appearances at the Winter Olympics. However, despite 30 years of men's competition, there had not been a women's Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympics until this year.
The women are competing in the two-man bobsled competition, which means, well, there are two people in the bobsled (as opposed to, say, a four-man bobsled). Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is serving as the pilot while Carrie Russell was selected as the push- and brakeman. Audra Segree was selected as the alternate brakeman. The team finished their first run in 51.29 seconds and landed in 17th place on Tuesday, Feb. 30. A full video of Jamaica's run can be viewed on NBC.
You can see how their Olympic debut went in a short video from the track here:
The Jamaican women's team debut did not come without a whole mess of drama. The games began sunnily enough, with the team dancing into the stadium during the opening ceremony and winning hearts around the globe.
But then, just days before they were set to make their competitive debut in PyeongChang, disaster struck. Sandra Kiriasis, their coach, suddenly quit — and attempted to take their sled with her, according to reports. It had been rumored that she was reassigned from coach to track performance analyst, but the Jamaican Bobsled and Skeleton Federation told Reuters that she made the decision to leave the team. So, how does the sled come into this? Well, it was leased in Kiriasis' name, she claimed, and she would not return the sled unless the team paid for it, since she was legally and financially response for it under the lease. Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation spokesperson Kathleen Pulito said that Kiriasis did not own the sled, however, according to USA Today. Pulito said Kiriasis created a "false narrative."
Yeah, things were messy.
And then, an unlikely hero emerged: A beer company. Red Stripe, a Jamaican beer company, tweeted to the bobsled team offering to put a new sled on their "tab." On Feb. 16, Red Stripe tweeted an update that the team had a new sleigh courtesy of the beer company.
To clarify things a little here, Red Stripe didn't buy the team a totally new sled. Instead, Red Stripe simply purchased the original sled the team had been using, according to USA Today, and formally gifted it to the team. It was all very confusing and essentially all that matters is that the team has a sled to compete in.
In PyeongChang training runs that took place before competition began, the Jamaican team peaked in sixth place, according to USA Today. While they're not exactly predicted to be gold medal champions in these races (look out for the U.S., German, and Swiss teams, according to Sports Illustrated, and the U.S. women's bobsled team is particularly inspiring), they've been competitive and are definitely making their mark on these games.
After waiting 30 years and very nearly losing the sled that they hold so dear and, uh, need to compete, these women have made history for both Jamaica and the world.