Gay, 34, a divisive figure in US track and field following his 2013 doping conviction, opted to skip the men’s event after consulting with bobsled coaches, a statement said.
“Gay flew to Calgary two days ago after finishing commitments following the 2016 Rio Olympics and has pushed a sled no more than 10 times,” a Team USA statement said.
“After meeting with the coaching staff it was decided that it was in Gay’s best interest to focus on learning and to watch today’s competition.”
The statement said Gay would continue training with the US bobsled team and may compete in combination pushes.
Push championships are compulsory for any athlete aiming to make the US national team during the 2016-17 season, a key part of preparations for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Meanwhile, Gay’s fellow Olympic sprinter Ryan Bailey was more successful.
Bailey won his category by 0.10sec in combined time to take the 2016 USA Bobsled National Championship.
“I didn’t know what to think coming into this competition,” Bailey said.
“Rookie camp was different because we were all rookies learning the sport, and I wasn’t expecting to be good.
“Coming in to race against the vets, I knew it would be tough, but after the first few pushes I thought all right, I might have a good shot. To actually win the first year, it’s a pretty good feeling.”