Bucks County bobsledder had unlikely path to bronze medal

 The team from the United States USA-2, piloted by Jamie Greubel with brakeman Aja Evans, prepare to start their third run during the women's bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo)

The team from the United States USA-2, piloted by Jamie Greubel with brakeman Aja Evans, prepare to start their third run during the women's bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo)

Jamie Greubel’s win was not supposed to happen.

The native of Newtown, Pa. and her partner Aja Evans won the bronze medal for bobsledding at the Olympcs in Sochi. They came behind another American team, Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers, who won silver. The gold went to Canada.

Greubel was always an athletic girl, showing natural ability in horse jumping at an early age, and setting records as a track sprinter at Cornell University. But her stepmother, Dr. Janet Lioy, says she never showed any interest in bobsledding.

“Never, ever, ever,” said Lioy, a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Not even in college was it a discussion. Ever. Never.”

Dr. Lioy raised Greubel since she was eleven. While other family members cheered on Greubel in Sochi, Lioy stayed on the homefront and watched the win online.

Being a fast runner makes Greubel a fast bobsledder. She picked up the sport almost as a fluke, when somebody asked her to try out six years ago. As soon as she picked up the sport, winning seemed inevitable.

“I was always the voice of reason: you got to have a good education, have a profession, get a good job,” said Lioy. “I never — other than the horseback riding, with my love of horses, and she was a natural equestrian — I was hoping she would go to vet school or something like that. Everything else came on its own. All from her.”

Greubel studied veterinary science at Cornell, then got a masters in education, but has never practiced her vocation due to bobsled training. Lioy says her stepdaughter has eyes for the Olympics in Korea, in 2018.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.