USBSF Co-Sanctions AAU Junior Olympics Combine and Bobsled Push

Aug. 08, 2014, 1:31 p.m. (ET)

USBSF Co-Sanctions AAU Junior Olympics Combine and Bobsled Push

USA Bobsled and Skeleton co-sanctioned two days of youth sports competitions at the recent 2014 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa, and Olympic bobsled silver medalists Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers Taylor appeared on the second day and at the opening ceremonies of the annual AAU sports festival on July 28th.

USA Bobsled and Skeleton sanctioned the JO Games Allsports Combine on July 27 at Drake University Stadium.  The Allsports Combine is a five-event competition for children ages 5 through 19, consisting of the bench press, power clean, pull-ups, standing long jump and the 40-yard-sprint.  In addition to medals, the male and female combine winners in the 14-15 and 16-17 age groups received a certificate for a free bobsled driving school at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. 

“We were happy to provide the certificates for a free G-Force driving school,” said Utah Olympic Park development coach Valerie Fleming.  “It is our hope that we can expose some of these young athletes to the sports of bobsled and skeleton, and we may even be able to identify talent for the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer.”

This year’s combine featured athletes from track and field, gymnastics and tumbling, weightlifting, powerlifting and football.  The slogan of AAU Combine is “Run, Jump, Lift,” and the intent is to identify the best overall athletes attending the AAU JO Games; the competitors battled their way through the five events over the course of the day, finishing the competition with the 40-yard sprint on the football infield, while track athletes competed in the high jump and race walk on the track just a few yards away, and thousands cheered in the stands.

During the combine, the AAU/USA Bobsled & Skeleton wheeled “push sled” was on display next to the scorers’ table, and was used to encourage registration for the Feats of Strength competition on the following day.

This was the second year for the JO Games combine, but the first year co-sanctioned by USBSF.  Four athletes repeated as combine champions in their age groups -- Max Crofton, of Shreveport, LA;  DelMario Hairston, of Cleveland, OH;  Ashley Perryman, of Cleveland, OH;  and Evan Pittman, of Phoenix, AZ.   There were also several AAU American combine records set or equaled this year, including the standing long jump for boys  (Dirion Hutchins – 9 feet 5.5 inches); bench press for boys and girls (West Fowler – 38 reps, Emily Grinning / Hallie Fowler – both at 46 reps); and strict pull-ups for boys (Evan Pittman – 21).   Team placings in the combine were Wild Card Gymnastics, of Wisconsin (1st); Cleveland Express and Ultimate Speed Academy of St. Louis (tied for 2nd); Jets Barbell, of Shreveport, LA (4th), and Throwers’ Respect, of Nevada (5th).    

On July 28, the USBSF also sanctioned the Bobsled Push event, one of five Feats of Strength events held at Drake University stadium as part of the Games.  Olympic silver medalists Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers Taylor attended the kickoff of the Feats of Strength, speaking with athletes and signing autographs, then headed onto the stadium infield for a full day of interaction with track and field athletes. 

The Bobsled Push was the final Feats of Strength event to be held on the stadium infield, and more than 9,000 spectators were in the stands watching both the Bobsled Push and semi-final heats of the 100M sprint.  A specially-designed, wheeled bobsled had been built for the event, and it was loaded with weights and scaled to make the push suitably difficult for children of all ages and weights.  The Push Sled featured a wrap with both USA Bobsled and AAU logos, and looked quite similar to the men’s USA 1 sled from the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Pictures and video of the Olympians with the mini-bobsled lit up social media almost immediately.

Lauryn and Elana demonstrated the push with the sled, and then it was over to the athletes, who each had two tries to achieve the fastest time in their age group.  One by one, each youth pushed for their fastest time over a 20-yard distance.  

“This was a fantastic event,” Elana said.  “I loved being able to spend the day with some off the best junior athletes in America, regardless of their sport.  The Bobsled Push event was fun, and it sure made bobsled visible for a lot of kids who might never have thought about it before.”

Later that evening, both Olympians appeared at the opening ceremony for the Junior Olympics in Drake Stadium, where they both spoke to the thousands gathered and demonstrated the bobsled push, to a thundering round of applause.