In July, Josh Williamson flew from his home in Florida to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take part in the filming of “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful” and try out for skeleton. Five months later, he’s climbing the ranks not in skeleton, but in bobsled, pushing sleds for Olympic medalists, presenting an award on national TV and, as he puts it, “enjoying every second of this journey.”
How did a kid from Florida find himself at the tops of mountains across Europe? By hitting a few (pretty cool) milestones along the way.
Miss out on watching “Next Olympic Hopeful”? The show re-airs on Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
1. Competed in his first push championships.
After winning “Next Olympic Hopeful,” there was no time off for Williamson. USA Bobsled & Skeleton was so impressed with him that he was whisked off to Calgary, Alberta, for the National Push Championships the week after filming. He finished 19th out of 26, but it was a successful first step… especially for someone who had never been in a bobsled before.
2. Took his first-ever ride in a bobsled.
For rookie bobsledders, taking their first ride in a bobsled is a major rite of passage, as most of them attend their first camps without ever having done so. Williamson was selected as the mne's bobsled winner of Next Olympic Hopeful in a sport he’d never actually done before. So aside for some rookie hazing, how did that first ride actually go?
3. Went to Korea for an international training week.
Team USA’s top bobsled pilots headed to the future Olympic track in PyeongChang, South Korea for a week of intense training, and Williamson was among the group of push athletes selected to attend. Though not yet a pilot – and still very new to the sport – USA Bobsled & Skeleton officials are grooming Williamson with an eye on turning him into a pilot in the future. While in Korea, the team spent time with South Korean bobsledders, and Williamson met his Korean counterpart. The youngest members of their respective squads have many potential years of competition ahead of them!
4. Won a gold medal in his first-ever international bobsled competition.
Beginner’s luck? Not a chance! Williamson competed in his first international competition, a North American Cup in Whistler, British Columbia, in a four-person sled with Hunter Church, Lou Moreira and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor. The foursome won the one-heat race by a huge three tenths of a second.
5. …and got gold medal number two under his belt as well.
Williamson was back in a sled with the same foursome in Calgary for another North American Cup. In a traditional two-run competition, they topped the field with a 1:50.34 combined downtime to win by 0.15 seconds, jumping into first after a strong second heat.
6. Competed in his first IBSF World Cup races with an Olympic medalist.
Just five months after beginning his bobsled journey, Williamson toed the start line in his first world cup race. pushing a four-person sled driven by two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor. The four-person event only became gender-neutral within the last few years and Meyers Taylor, one of the strongest advocates for the move, is the only female to compete in four-person races this year. Williamson, Brent Fogt, Meyers Taylor and her husband Nic Taylor finished 25th.
A 52.27 downtime puts Team Meyers Taylor into 5th! pic.twitter.com/OxuigVa4uM— USA Bobsled Skeleton (@USBSF) December 17, 2017
7. Presented at the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year.
In November, Williamson rubbed elbows with the biggest and brightest stars of Team USA at the filming of the Team USA Awards show. But Williamson didn’t just attend: he presented an award with five-time Olympic water polo player Tony Azevedo.