Throughout the summer leading up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, USA Bobsled & Skeleton is speaking with an athlete each week to get to know more about their careers, personalities and outside interests.
Coming off her second season on the North American Cup tour, skeleton athlete Leslie Stratton is part of a group of USABS sliders living and training in Park City, Utah this summer. The Bedford, N.H. native grew up skiing and playing softball and lacrosse, but calls her second-grade jump-roping championship title her athletic peak because it was, in her words, “as good as it gets.”
Outside of skeleton, Stratton played on the Swedish national softball team for three seasons and competed in the 2015 European Championships. USABS sat down with her as she continues preparation for the 2017-2018 season, which, in addition to training, includes working two jobs and playing the ukulele.
USABS: How did you get into skeleton?
LS: I found out about skeleton in high school because I went to a winter sports school and I also had a friend who trained in Lake Placid for aerials. I always knew I wanted to try out after finding out about the sport from her. I tried out in the fall of 2014 and I did bobsled for the year of 2014-2015 and switched over to skeleton after that.
USABS: You’ve played for Sweden’s national team in softball in the past. Tell me about that experience.
LS: I started playing with them in the summer of 2013. I was in college at the time and we had a new coach. Her mom was from Puerto Rico, so she had affiliations with the Puerto Rican team. She asked me if I had ever played for Sweden and I had never even thought about that as a possibility. She ended up contacting the coach for me and took videos at practice without me knowing and sent them to him. A week later, he called me, and I ended up playing for Sweden for three years. We traveled all over Europe, I played in the European Championships in 2015 and I was ranked third in Europe in RBI’s, which was pretty cool.
USABS: What are you up to this summer?
LS: I’m going to hit training pretty hard this summer, as everyone is. I train out in Park City, so we have the push track there, which is wonderful. We have a really good group who trains out here together. I’m focusing on that training, nutrition, making sure my equipment is good. Just grinding it out before the Olympic season. As far as off the track, I’m pretty boring. I have hobbies. I do puzzles. I play the ukulele, that’s something I’m going to get really good at this summer, I’ve decided. I love dogs, so I’m definitely going to play with a lot of puppies. I also work for a small finance company online and I write for a website called The Odyssey Online.
USABS: What is your favorite sliding memory?
LS: I have three in my head, but everyday is a great day at sliding. Ironically, some of my favorite memories are the ones that involve me flipping a sled. I promise I'm not crazy, but the struggles never cease to solidify the love I have for the sport. But if I had to choose one it's probably the Whistler North American Cup last year. That track is unpredictably fun and what dreams are made of.
USABS: What is something that fans of the sport might not know about you?
LS: I really like spelling words. I watch the spelling bee outrageously attentively every year. Last year, I Snapchatted the Scripps National Spelling Bee and they Snapchatted me back. I have the screenshot, I have proof. I’m a nerd at heart.
USABS: What would your dream job be if you weren’t a skeleton athlete?
LS: I want to be an astronaut.
USABS: What are you reading right now?
LS: I just finished ‘Mind Gym.’ It’s awesome. I recommend it.
USABS: Who is your celebrity crush?
LS: I have so many, but I have to go with Eddie Redmayne.
USABS: Which USABS athlete would you want as your trivia partner?
LS: Alex Ivanov.
USABS: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
LS: Antarctica. No one goes there.
Be sure to follow Stratton on Twitter and Instagram @lesliestrat!
Kristen Gowdy, USABS Media and Marketing Assistant, email@example.com, (719) 722-0522