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World Champs: Kaillie Humphries and Lolo Jones on Historic Bobsled Win

Kaillie Humphries and Lolo Jones in bobsled world championship/JWS
Kaillie Humphries and Lolo Jones in bobsled world championship/JWS

Kaillie Humphries and Lolo Jones paired to win a historic two-woman bobsled world championship on February 6th. For Humphries, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, it was her fourth world championship. For Jones, it was the biggest win in her second-career after she picked up the sport a decade ago. They spoke with Just Women’s Sports about their historic win and what comes next as they prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

First off, congratulations to you both. I read somewhere that Kaillie, you messaged Lolo on Instagram to get her to come back to bobsledding a few years back. Can you both give your side of that story? 

Kaillie: I met Lolo through bobsled years ago going into the Olympic year. I was with Canada, she was with the USA going into 2014. So we had known of each other, had conversations, had chatted, just being in the sports world. And then fast forward to me joining team USA last season. Going into this summer, I had messaged Lolo just to see where she was at. I knew she was training for Tokyo, but with Tokyo being postponed a year, I just wanted to see if she was coming back to bobsleigh. And if that was at all an interest for her.

I had raced with one of her former teammates in Canada. So I’ve had a feeling that pairing my steering with her speed could be a really good combination. I always admired Lolo for her athleticism and just being a really strong, motivational, powerful athlete. And so I messaged her and we started talking about her coming back, what that would look like. And so I’m very grateful that she trusted me and the coaching staff and the team and took that risk and felt safe to come back.

 

Lolo, what was that like from your perspective, getting that message and having those early conversations?

Lolo: It was basically what Kaillie said. We met as competitors. Actually, my job was to make sure that we put the biggest gap on her when she competed for Team Canada, that’s just how good of a driver she is. We were always like, “You have to put the gap on her because she’s such a good driver. Just put as much as you can on her.” My job was to make her have really bad days.

So when she messaged me after crossing over to the USA, honestly, I can only describe it as like Usain Bolt sliding into your DMs and asking you to be on a 4×100 relay race. And that’s essentially what it was like, I almost dropped my phone. I was like, “Is this really happening?” She’s one of the best drivers, not only for Team USA, but in the history of bobsled. So any brakeman would be honored to get in her sled.

But it was by no means easy, we’re making it sound like it was easy, but she recruited me. But that doesn’t mean I was guaranteed to be in a sled. There were levels to this where I had to either prove myself or beat someone or have a good result to actually end up in her sled. But that’s the long short story.

 

And what do you think allowed you to find such quick chemistry?

Kaillie: Personality wise, how we approach our sport is very similar. I think just mentally, the fierceness, the intensity that we bring, the determination — we are very detailed personalities and are always pushing for perfection. And so I think right from the get go, there were certain aspects of Lolo I could see and understand, and it just felt comfortable being around her.

Like she said, there were definitely some obstacles and some hurdles, and we both had to work individually at the beginning of the season. But then once we were able to come together and reach a certain point, I think a lot of it was a feeling of comfort and understanding for one another, a willingness to push for each other, and then just having trust and faith in the other person. You wanted to compete for them. I didn’t want to just win. I wanted to win alongside Lolo.

 

Kaillie — you’re now the only woman to win four world championships. Now that you’ve had some time to process that, what does it mean to you? 

Kaillie: A little bit of relief comes with that from the standpoint of, “I always believed in myself and that I could be one of the best in the sport.” I’ve worked extremely hard to put myself in this scenario. This is my life and everything that I do. So to be amongst some of the best is just a really cool feeling. And it does feel like there’s a payday at the end. It’s not monetary, it’s not something tangible, but just the feeling that it worked.

The plan was there for all those years, all those hard days, all those times away from family, from friends. It definitely is a big relief, but also it’s a super cool feeling. It does provide a lot of confidence to know I can jump in a sled and I am one of the best, I can trust my abilities a little bit more. I think I have more confidence in myself for sure after having won this. I have more confidence in my ability as a driver, as a female, in who I am and what I stand for and what I represent. I feel a lot stronger in my feelings and my faith with that.

 

And Lolo, I know you have a unique story as well. You’re now a world champion in two different sports, and have won those titles across three different decades. 

Lolo: I’m old, thank you. [Laughs]

 

You started competing in bobsledding almost a decade ago. What has kept you motivated throughout these years?

Lolo: I think as an athlete, we kind of get this stigma that we’re washed up, we’re not of value as we get older. So I embrace that. I mean, Kaillie is 35. So it’s kind of cool to achieve these goals at a later stage.

I’m thrilled that I was able to win this championship with Kaillie and over three decades, it just shows the longevity of my career. But what it probably doesn’t show is all the time in between the losses, the nights where I wondered if I should give up. One of my favorite quotes is, “Never tease an old dog because they might just have one bite left in them.”

That’s for anybody going for a dream who feels like they’re washed up or that they don’t have what it takes anymore. I just tell them to keep pushing. Cause that’s what me and Kaillie are doing. And we’re quite successful at it.

You were training for one last Summer Olympics bid, after which you were on an MTV reality show before jumping into Bobsled camp. How were you able to make that transition so quickly and successfully? 

Lolo: Was definitely not quickly. It definitely put Kaillie at a hindrance, for sure. Because of the quick turnover, I’m not at the weight I need to be for bob, so we actually had to put quite a bit of weight in the bob this year. So that means I had to have help pushing it. Now back in Boston, I’ll be able to put on the weight gain so that we don’t have to do that.

 

Kaillie, I understand that you’re still waiting for a citizenship decision which will determine whether you can compete for the US at the Olympics next year. Can you give us an update as to what that timeline looks like?

Kaillie: I cannot give you an update because there is none. My application is in, but unfortunately COVID shut down immigration and the government for a period of time this summer. So we’re still in the process of understanding where I’m at. That’s something that my lawyer is working on right now. So we don’t have an exact timeline. There is no exact date. There is nothing official as of now because there’s still a backlog of stuff. And they’re trying to sort through a whole mess of, like I said, immigration as a whole across the entire country. And so where I fall into that, it’s still pretty unknown at this time. At this point, we’re just waiting for a decision.

 

Assuming it all works out, this will be your first Olympics competing for the US. You’ve obviously competed in the Olympics before and won a fair share of medals. But what would it mean to compete for the US in China?

Kaillie: Well, I think, honestly, it will be a huge honor to represent such a strong nation, such a strong country. Those are huge shoes to step into, and it’s not lost on me. And I’m extremely proud to represent the USA right now, to represent it on the world stage, to know that I feel like I leveled up.

I’m proud to live and represent the United States. It is my home. It is where I live now. I married an American, so this is very much my life. I think just being proud is the biggest thing I can say overall. Now, it will be a first, for sure, but I’m not new to the Olympic world. This world is still the same. So I’m excited for the opportunities, for the chance to potentially bring home medals for the United States in this sport and to show as you know, we’re very strong, proud athletes and females within this sport. And we can do anything we set our mind to.

 

How are you both preparing for 2022 now? 

Lolo: For me, I need to focus on properly gaining weight. And then mentally, I just have to prepare myself, because I’m going to be returning to where my first Olympics was. I competed in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, which everybody kind of knows is where I hit a hurdle, and that cost me the Olympic gold medal.

So I’m going to fight like hell to earn my spot on the team, to go back there and just have redemption. I don’t want to just go and win a medal. I want to go and win a gold medal. Because of what happened, I am just going to work my tail off to make sure I’m in the position to do that.

Kaillie: And the cool part is, Lolo is not going to be alone this time. Not that she was last time, but it’s not going to be just her. We have a very, very strong women team heading to 2022. The team is one of the strongest women bob teams in the world. So we’ll be there to support Lolo. Everybody has their individual goals, myself included, but as a women’s group, as a women’s team, we are extremely strong. And so that’s very motivating for me specifically. I think I definitely want to go, win an Olympic gold medal in 2022. It’s not just showing up and making the team. I lost that in 2018. I was a champion before, but somebody else got it last time. So I want it back. That’s my goal.

 

Was there anything else that you wanted to bring up that I didn’t mention at all?

Lolo: I just hope there are women out there that are just inspired. If they can look at Kaillie and just see her dominance and see how she was able to break history and just be really spot on at the prime of her career — that’s incredible. And I hope it inspires women to just keep reaching for new levels. And then I hope that they see my story and know that through it all, through the ups and the downs, they just need to keep pressing. Because both of us have gone through a lot of hardships and I know it may seem easy, but it wasn’t. So just keep fighting.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

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