Elana Meyers Taylor is tied for the title of the United States’ most decorated Olympic bobsledder in history. After winning bronze as a brakeman in her Olympic debut in 2010, she switched to the driver’s seat and won consecutive silver medals in 2014 and 2018. Meyers Taylor is also the first American women’s pilot to win a world title, doing so in 2015 and winning another one in 2017. Her world cup experience is highlighted by 39 medals and the fact that, after fighting for women’s inclusion, she became the first woman to compete in four-person bobsled in 2014.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Lauren Gibbs and I slid to a silver medal on one of the most amazing days for Team USA in the PyeongChang Games – or Super Wednesday, as I like to call it. On that Wednesday, not only did Team USA win four medals, but all of the medal winners were women: alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, cross-country skiers Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, and the long track speedskating team of Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe, Mia Manganello and Carlijn Schoutens.
It really made me proud to represent Team USA as a female but it also got me thinking about what it means to represent Team USA as a female.
So what does it mean and why is it significant that I’m a female? Although we as a country have a long time way to go as far as gender equality is concerned, the U.S. is still way more progressive than many other nations. I travel around the world and speak with many athletes from other nations, and there’s quite a contrast between the opportunities I have in the U.S. vs. some of the opportunities they are afforded.
In the U.S., I can play any sport I want and can work to play it at the highest level. If I play a sport where there’s nothing beyond recreational participation, I have a voice and can fight for it to become elite or professional. If I compete in a sport where men are treated differently from women (like bobsled internationally), I can fight for equality.
Elana Meyers Taylor celebrates during the medal ceremony for women's bobsled at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 22, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
As I was raised in a post-Title IX America, I had the opportunity to receive a college scholarship to play softball. My entire life I had a dream of playing sport at the highest level and knew it was possible. I was empowered by my participation in sports; it taught me and gave me confidence to fight for what I believe in and speak my mind.
It also taught me to appreciate my body and what I can do with it, as so often society tries to dictate to women what our bodies should look like. In sport, bodies are different and serve a unique purpose for every sport. Size and shape are varied as sport requirements are varied, and it’s a beautiful thing!
So what does it mean to be a woman of Team USA? It means you are part of a proud tradition and you have an important responsibility. You have a responsibility to fight for equality for those who can’t, to speak up for women in this country and around the world. You have a responsibility to be a role model to the young women who follow in your footsteps – to show them to be proud of who they are, what they look like and what they can do.
Most importantly, you have a responsibility to yourself to live your true self and show the world who you are as an American woman. I love the responsibility, I love representing Team USA, and I love that I won my third Olympic medal on the same day as so many other great American women. What a Super Wednesday it was!