KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Elfje Willemsen was adamant. The fourth-place sled at the midpoint of the women's bobsled competition at the Sochi Olympics, she said, has almost no chance of getting into the medal mix.
That might seem a bit harsh.
Then again, Willemsen's opinion matters here since she's the driver of that fourth-place sled.
"Not hopeful at all," Willemsen said about her medal chances going into Wednesday night's final two runs at the Sanki Sliding Center. "If we can catch the third, that will be unbelievable. But I don't think that will happen."
She's probably right. It's a three-sled race right now for medals at the Sochi Games.
Elana Meyers of Douglasville, Ga., and Lauryn Williams of Rochester, Pa., are the leaders after two runs, their time of 1 minute, 54.89 seconds giving USA-1 a lead of 0.23 seconds over Canada's reigning gold medalists, Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse.
Jamie Greubel of Newtown, Pa., and Aja Evans of Chicago are third, another 0.33 seconds back — and nearly a half-second ahead of Willemsen and Hanna Emilie Marien of Belgium.
So as has been the norm in sledding at these Olympics, there's a huge gap in the standings. And for Meyers and Williams, gold is two clean runs away.
"This whole ride has been awesome," said Williams, who's bidding to win her second Olympic gold medal — to go along with the one she won as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team at the London Games in 2010. "I never would have thought I'd be here six months ago and here I am. God couldn't have sent me anything better than this opportunity."
If USA-1 wins, Williams will be the second Olympian ever with a summer gold and winter gold.
Here's five things to watch in the final two runs of women's bobsled:
USA-3's sled of Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones is in 11th place at the midway point. Their average start time was 5.27 seconds, which was fifth-best in the field. Fenlator has had an up-and-down season on the consistency front, and Jones says she expects her pilot to show her skills in the final two runs.
Jones went to two Olympics as a hurdler, and she's not the only one of those in this bobsled field. Australia's Jana Pittman is the brakeman for her country's sled at the Sochi Games, and teaming with driver Astrid Radjenovic she's in 14th place after two runs.
Brazil had a horrible crash in training, but after some sled repairs made it through the first two runs of the Olympics in 18th place, ahead of only South Korea.
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Humphries and Moyse know they're in second place, and that's all they want to know. So when they show up to the track on Wednesday, the fact they're about a quarter-second behind won't phase them. Instead, they keep it simple — go as fast as possible and see what happens.
The men's two-man entries from Germany struggled, and the women aren't doing much better. Sandra Kiriasis is best among the German pilots and she's in fifth place, a half-second out of the bronze-medal spot. Germany dominated luge at these Olympics, but bobsledding has been an outright disaster so far.