Elana Meyers Taylor is set to compete in her third Olympic Games, and her career path has seen her team up with a number of talented brakemen, and drivers in her early career, who’ve helped her reach her goals.
Her ultimate teammate, both off and even sometimes on the bobsled track, however, is her husband and fellow bobsledder Nic Taylor.
Married in April 2014, the two support each other in every way as they pursue their dreams, from cheering one another on to helping stay on track with nutrition and sleep to even embarking on a road trip when a bobsled doesn’t show up on time. That’s what happened back in December when Meyers Taylor’s sled got held up in customs before the world cup in Winterberg, Germany.
“When our sled didn’t show up, he and a teammate were the ones who drove to Munich six hours one way to pick up a new sled, so it was pretty incredible of them to do that,” Meyers Taylor said. “Then they had to turn around and get back in time for training. He’s always doing little things — although that was a big thing — to make sure I have what I need. He serves as my sports psychologist, coach, therapist; he does everything for me.”
Being an elite bobsledding couple means little twists on the everyday issues that other couples face. They don’t have a house or an apartment anywhere because they’re on the go so often, which also means they don’t have the utility bills that go along with that. But they do have Airbnb’s to find and pay for along with credit card, phone and other bills. They also have to think about cell service and internet reliability in the areas where they’ll be traveling and staying and making sure everything’s paid in case they can’t — or shouldn’t — be accessing financial information while on the road.
Then there’s meal preparation. With both of them training and racing, nutrition is critical for both, but in different ways.
“When we’re at a hotel, usually the hotel provides food, but when we’re at Airbnb’s one of us has to do the cooking,” she said. “He does most of it so I can focus on training, even though he’s training, too, and our food habits are different as well. I have to lose and he has to gain (weight), so he has to measure food and make sure I have the nutrients I need while he eats double what I need to eat and still loses weight.”
Although her focus is the women’s two-man sled, which is the Olympic event, Meyers Taylor has also had the opportunity to pilot a four-man sled with Taylor as a teammate.
After Meyers Taylor won a silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi in 2014, the IBSF began allowing women to push four-man sleds for the first time. Since then, the two have raced together with results that this year included fourth- and fifth-place finishes at the North American Cup in Park City, Utah.
“It’s so awesome and so much fun, and one of the coolest things we’ve gotten to do,” she said of racing together. “Driving a four-man is in general amazing, but he takes care of everything with the sled so I can focus on driving the race. With him I know there are minimal things I’ll have to do as far as preparation. He takes care of it all and he knows what I need before I know I need it. With two-man you have a lot more responsibility as far as equipment goes, so it’s nice to have that break.”
When the two are away from the sleds, Meyers Taylor said, they try to minimize their shoptalk. At home, it’s the “B” word, and they have a rule about it.
“In order to bring up the ‘B’ word you have to ask permission,” she said. “Sometimes he’ll ask or I’ll ask and the answer is either, ‘No, we’re not talking about that right now,’ or sometimes it’s a yes.”
In addition to her Olympic medal, Meyers Taylor is also a two-time world champion. In short, she’s one of the best in the world at what she does. Yet one thing she was hoping for perhaps even more than making the 2018 Olympic team herself was that Taylor would make the team. Taylor, a former college track and field athlete who has pushed for pilots including the late Steven Holcomb and 2018 Olympian Codie Bascue, will travel to PyeongChang, but as a replacement athlete.
“(Trying to both make the Olympic team) is a lot of fun but it’s also hard,” Meyers Taylor said. “I want him to reach his goals sometimes more than I want to reach my own goals, and when he does or doesn’t it’s an emotional rollercoaster.
“Part of the reason I’m a driver is because I’m a bit of a control freak and in his career, there’s nothing I can do to control it. I can’t control if he’s put on the team or anything other than directly racing with him, and sometimes that’s hard. But when he does reach his goals, it’s better than anything I can do.”