Jones didn’t want to talk about herself afterward. She praised Williams, who won medals in the Summer and Winter Games, comparing the sprinting dynamo to legendary Olympian Jesse Owens. Jones had kind words for Fenlator, the soft-yet-tough New Jersey girl who competed in these games knowing her ill mother was at home cheering her on.
Jones had something positive to say about each one of her American sliding sisters. Having run in her own lane for so long, they had taught her went it meant to be a team player.
“These are my teammates and unlike track and field, I have lived with each one of these girls,” Jones said. “I’ve lived with Jamie, Aja, Lauryn. I’ve worked with them 12, 15 hours a day. I’ve taken eight hour-car rides, four girls in a car for eight hours. They are our mini-family.
“I know everything they’ve gone through, every tear they’ve cried. I just want to be there and lift them up and cheer as loud as I can for them because I know if I was on the podium, they would do the same for me.”
Accused by some of drawing attention to herself, Jones willingly shared the spotlight.
Her selection to the U.S. team had spawned controversy by those who felt American coaches had succumbed to outside pressure to bring her to Sochi. But her teammates felt she belonged. They were the ones who saw her sand runners and pull sleds, and Jones was the one who lured Williams to the sport.
“Lolo has been a trooper through the whole time,” Meyers said. “She recruited Lauryn, so to be in that situation and to recruit such a strong athlete and have the confidence to say, you’re going to compete against me for a spot, that speaks loads about Lolo’s character and I think she doesn’t get enough credit for how hard she works and how she’s dedicated to Team USA.”
After USA-3 made its final run, Fenlator climbed from the sled disappointed. She had wanted to medal and tried to apologize to Jones, who wouldn’t hear it.
“I told her: ‘You can’t be discouraged, my first Olympics was a nightmare,'” Jones said with a laugh. “I think we’re good teammates because I can lift her up and tell her to keep fighting for it. This was a good day for USA bobsled. This was historic, and I honestly just want to go celebrate with them.”
Jones now plans to take some time off so her body can recover. She hasn’t decided about her future in bobsled, but Fenlator promised to “reel her back in” for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Jones may still be chasing a medal, but she’s found a better reward.
She’s on a team, and that’s more valuable than anything gold, silver or bronze.