One Mormon Woman In, Another Out in Bobsled Shuffle
PARK CITY, UTAH -- A shuffle during the week before the U.S. Olympic
women's bobsled team trials put former BYU soccer star Shauna Rohbock
out of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, but put Arizona native Gea
Johnson on the team expected to win the gold. The shuffle started
when US bobsled driver Jean Racine suddenly dropped her long-time
partner, Ogden, Utah native Jen Davidson, for the faster Johnson.
Competing driver Jill Bakken, of Salt Lake City, Utah, then dropped
Rohbock for Vonnetta Flowers, who is faster and isn't suffering from
The new team of Racine and Johnson won the trials on Saturday,
December 22nd, and shaved a tenth of a second off the Utah Olympic
Park record set last year. The win also put them in the Olympic games
with a good shot at winning the gold, "Getting that track record, I
really, really needed that going into the Olympics," Racine said.
"I'm really, really confident."
The turn of events marks a decade-long effort by Johnson to make the
Olympics. A high school track star at the Phoenix area's Washington
High School, Johnson went on to become a track All-American while at
Arizona State and the 1990 NCAA heptathlon champion.
But injuries and other hurdles plagued her attempts to make the
Olympics. She suffered a severe knee injury in the 1992 U.S. Olympic
Track Trials and then in 1994 she was accused of using anabolic
steroids and suspended from competition. But Johnson maintained that
authorities mishandled samples, leading to positive test results and
filed a $12 million lawsuit against the international and U.S. track
federations. The lawsuit allowed her to compete in the 1996 Olympic
Trials, but a leg injury and the Epstein-Barr virus again kept her
Johnson eventually dropped the lawsuit, and moved on to
weightlifting, which was making its women's debut at the 2000 Sydney
Olympics. By 1999 she was first in her weight class and poised to
make the U.S. Olympic team, but again injuries kept her from
Then a Canadian bobsledder suggested that Johnson try the sport. Even
though she laughed at the idea at first, something made her try it
anyway, "Sometimes something happens inside," Johnson said. "I
couldn't quit thinking about it for 48 hours. I'll never forget it."
She started training in September, made her first full bobsled run in
October, and was ready when Bonny Warner split with her then
brakeman, Vonetta Flowers. When she won a raceoff against Bethany
Hart for the spot behind Warner, Johnson was suddenly in a three-way
race for the two U.S. Olympic berths.
Meanwhile, Bakken and Rohbock have been a team for two years and even
took advantage of the U.S. Army's World Class Athlete Program
together, joining the Army and taking basic training together to get
funding to compete. However both Bakken and Rohbock have since left
the program because of injuries.
Unlike the very public split between Racine and Davidson, Rohbock and
Bakken have remained friends, mostly because Rohbock recognizes that
Flowers is faster and she is injured.
Racine sets track record without ex-partner
CBS Sportsline (AP) 23Dec01 S2
Weightlifter turns focus to bobsled
Phoenix AZ Republic 16Nov01 S2
By Jeff Metcalfe: The Arizona Republic
Local athlete in Olympic hunt
Shauna Rohbock: Her Need for Speed may Lead...to the Olympics
Mormon News 11Dec01 S2
By Paul Carter