Jamie Greubel '06 and Chris Langton '12 aim for Olympic bobsled teams
Jamie Greubel '06 and Chris Langton '12 know a thing or two about winning.
As a member of the Big Red women's track and field team from 2002-06, Greubel was a member of four Indoor and four Outdoor Heptagonal Championship teams. Individually, she won four Heps championships and holds the school record in the heptathlon (outdoor) and pentathlon (indoor). One of only two three-time outdoor Heps Champions in Ivy League history, she also set the meet record in the heptathlon in 2006.
As a member of the Big Red men's lacrosse team from 2009-12, Langton won three Ivy League Championships and participated in three NCAA tournaments, including a trip to the 2009 national championship, as well as two semifinal and three quarterfinal appearances. As a senior, he was Cornell's lone selection to the 2012 North/South game after being named second-team All-Ivy.
While both had great success in collegiate athletics, neither pursued their primary sport post graduation. Instead, Gruebel and Langton found themselves drawn to the sport of bobsledding, and both were recently named to the U.S. national team roster heading into the World Cup season, which will determine the athletes chosen to make the trip to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
"I was introduced to bobsled through [former Cornell] teammate, Ethan Albrecht-Carrie '04, who joined the men's bobsled team after Cornell and convinced me to try out," explains Greubel. "I have always been driven by my competitiveness and love for sports, and I knew that I was not satisfied with my athletic career ending after Cornell. This was an incredible opportunity to be able to train for the Olympics in a new sport that fit perfectly with my athletic background."
Bobsled athletes must use a blend of strength, speed, agility and mental toughness to be successful -- all which are traits Greubel and Langton cultivated on East Hill.
"Both Jamie and Chris came to Cornell with some pretty amazing numbers in terms of strength, power and speed," says Tom Howley, assistant director of athletics for athletes' performance. "But so much more goes into making a great athlete, and that's the part that they developed during their athletic careers here at Cornell. In terms of pure athleticism, both were gifted, special athletes, but more importantly, they were driven athletes. So it has just been a matter of fine-tuning the skills they needed for the bobsled … It's just incredible and we're all so proud of them."
While Gruebel was introduced to the sport by a teammate, Langton's connection was closer to home. His brother Steven is a world champion bobsledder who participated in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Langton remembers watching the opening ceremonies in 2010 and looking for his brother's face. "There was a close-up of Steve," he recalls. "I remember thinking how happy he looked. … That moment, when I saw that look of joy and pride on my brother's face, was when I decided that would be my next step after graduation."
Greubel, an Olympic alternate in 2010, is piloting the USA-2 sled. She holds her fate in her hands, as pilots earn a spot based solely on international points gained throughout the season, which includes eight races in North America and Europe through early January.
Langton, who was selected for the national team just weeks into his bobsledding career, will have less control of his fate because push athletes are selected by a committee that considers several factors, including race results and combine test scores.
Gruebel and Langton, who missed each other in Ithaca by three years, train at the same facility in Lake Placid, N.Y., and have bonded over their shared experiences wearing the Red and White to become good friends. The pair hopes to have another shared experience at Sochi where they will look to do some more winning -- but this time for the Red, White and Blue.
Also looking to compete in the upcoming Olympic games are Big Red women's hockey players Rebecca Johnston '12, Laura Fortino '13, Lauriane Rougeau '13 and Brianne Jenner '15. All have been training and competing with Team Canada in pre-Olympic competitions.