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Journey Of Champions presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance: Steve Mesler Talks With Elana Meyers

By Steve Mesler, 2010 Four-Man Bobsled Olympic Champion | April 18, 2013, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

Elana Meyers (L) and Erin Pac celebrate bronze in the women's
bobsled at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games at the
Whistler Sliding Centre on Feb. 24, 2010 in Whistler, B.C.

Steve Mesler is a three-
time Olympian and 2010
Olympic gold medalist
in four-man bobsled.

It’s mid-April and winter athletes all over the world have ended their seasons. The skis have been put away, the skates have been hung up and the bobsleds are hibernating in their dark and lonely sled boxes for the summer. It’s no different than any other year. Except, it is.

It’s now officially an Olympic year, ladies and gentlemen!

I’ve had the opportunity to watch 2010 Olympic bronze-medal bobsledder Elana Meyers mature into one of the most focused and dedicated athletes on all of Team USA. She made the transition from being one of the world’s best push athletes in 2010 to being one of the most feared drivers on the World Cup tour heading into next season. It was a very similar path to my former teammate, reigning Olympic four-man champion driver, Steven Holcomb.

With two world championship medals under her belt the last two seasons, Elana is a favorite for a medal next year in Sochi. She’s got a lot going on in her life, though. From being newly engaged to fellow national team member Nic Taylor to being an Athlete Mentor for Classroom Champions, Elana has a full plate.

She and I talked recently about what she’s focusing on and how she’s going to make it happen. There’s nothing more important during the Olympic year than not only knowing what your plan is, but knowing how you’re going to complete it.

Elana answers your Twitter questions via Skype!

You’re an Olympic bronze medalist already and you want to be an Olympic gold medalist. You’ve been through the Olympic cycle already and understand what it’s all about.

With your experience in mind, what are the top three priorities of this coming Olympic season for you?

Number one is making sure I have the right support team and system in place. That includes everything from my faith and making sure my relationship with Christ is there, all the way to making sure my training group is right. I also have to make sure I have the right sports psychologist and coach – all that encompasses my support team. So that's number one, making sure the support system is in place.

Number two is figuring out my training schedule and my training plan. Making sure I know exactly where I'm going to be and when. Making sure I have mapped out what days I'm going to train, what days I'm going to have off, my recovery and what my nutrition plan looks like.

Number three is to have some fun bobsledding. This year is going to be exciting. I want to do well and have some great results but the only way I'm going to do that is if I remember to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process, enjoy the road to making an Olympic team and hopefully win another medal.

Support team, training and fun - that's a great setup!

So how do you address each of them and ensure they happen? How do you make sure you have the proper support team in place?

As far as the support team – the first thing to do, as much as it hurts, as hard as it is, is you've got to cut out the negative people in your life. That's the very first thing. When you're going for such a high goal, having negativity around you is really going to bring you down.

So what that meant for me right away was that I needed to switch agents. Even something as simple as that was important. I needed to put myself in a better position and, well, it just needed to happen.

Also getting a new training group, that was huge – just surrounding myself with better people. I learned that at World Championships, specifically this year. My brakeman and I made a point of being around people who uplift us. It caused us to hang around with very few people, but it saved us the drama of them picking other teams and just allowed us to focus on ourselves.

As far as the rest of my team, which includes sports nutritionist, sports psych and coaches – I have to go with people who are knowledgeable in the industry and people who have produced results.

Lastly, finding people that I'm comfortable with. I did change coaches back to Stu McMillan, who I'm very comfortable with. I'm very excited to work with him again. He's had some great results not only with me, but with almost every bobsledder he’s worked with.

Erin Pac and Elana Meyers in USA-2 celebrate their final run at the
Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games at the Whistler Sliding
Centre on Feb. 24, 2010 in Whistler, B.C.

I don't know what you're talking about! (I said with a smile, as Stu was my coach from my second year in the sport in 2003, through my team’s Olympic gold medal in 2010.)

Yeah, exactly! So just really getting great, positive people in there. And when it comes to finding those people – it comes down to talking to other athletes or searching for them myself. It's an important process. Sometimes as well, your friends can be very well-intentioned, sometimes that little bit of negativity they have can be bad. You just need to remind them of what you're trying to do and that you need them to stay positive for you.

So your second priority - how do you address your training schedule and program? How do you make sure that priority number two happens?

First of all, I have to create a comprehensive plan with my coach to realize what the best strategy is for me. Where I want to be, when I want to be there and scheduling what other events I'll be doing and where my training programs will be around them is a big process.

It really involves working with Stu to deal with how we're going to handle all of this. Making sure I work with him on my nutrition and everything like that, but also part of the day-to-day basics is I’ve got to wake up and remember what I'm doing and what I'm training for. I think a lot of times it's easy to just go through the motions.

I have to remember everyday I'm training for the Olympic Games; I'm training to win a medal. I'm not just going to the gym to get fit or to look a certain way. I'm training for the Olympics and that requires dedication and a lot out of you. Keeping that perspective is what's really going to help me develop my training plan.

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