Monday, February 18, 2002
Johnson expected to be ready for U.S. on Tuesday
PARK CITY, Utah -- Forget about Jean Racine and Jen Davidson riding together in the Olympics.
A hamstring injury to brakewoman Gea Johnson created confusion Sunday, as U.S. bobsled officials initially said Racine could be reunited with Davidson, her former teammate and best friend. Racine dumped Davidson from the USA-1 sled in December.
The U.S. Olympic Committee rejected any possible reunion Sunday night, saying Davidson was not eligible because she did not compete in the Olympic trials.
"If Gea Johnson is not able to compete as the push athlete for Jean Racine, the only possible replacement is Bethany Hart," USOC spokesman Mike Moran said.
Racine and Johnson took their third practice run down the Utah Olympic Park Sunday night. They had another slow start (6.18 seconds), but Racine said, "we weren't going at all."
Racine said she was confident Johnson would be with her for the race Tuesday.
"She's my girl," Racine said. "We're going for it."
Asked if she could envision any scenario in which she would have to replace Johnson, Racine said, "absolutely not."
The pair was not going to practice Monday so Johnson could rest up, Racine said. Johnson did not speak to reporters after practice.
The head of the U.S. bobsled federation also said Johnson appeared to be ready.
"Gea is competing. ... She looks good and she says she feels good. At this point, there's no reason to speculate about why Jen would be eligible," said Matt Roy, executive director of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
Earlier, Davidson said she would gladly push for Racine.
"I'll do whatever the team needs," said Davidson, who is in Utah as a forerunner, checking out the course for the Olympic competitors.
Racine recruited Johnson, a former track and field heptathlete who was suspended for four years for steroid use, to be her pusher in December when the driver became dissatisfied with Davidson's performances during the World Cup season.
Racine was widely criticized when she decided to fire Davidson just two weeks before the Olympic trials. The two had won two world championships together and were marketed together in television ads leading up to the games.
Davidson filed a grievance against Racine in January, arguing that she should have had a chance to try out for the U.S. team. But she dropped it late last month.