Summer Series: Getting to know Kelly Curtis

April 13, 2018, 1:05 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Molly Choma


To kick off the 2022 Olympic quad, USA Bobsled & Skeleton is speaking with a potential 2022 Olympic athlete each week to get to know more about their careers, personalities and outside interests.

A Princeton, N.J. native, skeleton athlete Kelly Curtis is coming off of her best competitive season yet, having won the 2017-2018 North American Cup (NAC) title by more than 100 points. She medaled in five of the eight NAC races in her first year on tour as a skeleton athlete.

Curtis transitioned from bobsled to skeleton after the 2014-2015 season, her first in the sport. She quickly found her passion in skeleton, and committed to the sport immediately.

USABS caught up with Curtis as she begins her offseason training.

USABS: Where did you grow up and what sports did you play as a kid?

KC: I grew up in Princeton, NJ. I played the sport of the season as a kid. The sports were mainly basketball and track, but I also played a little softball and wrestled for a couple years.

USABS: How did you get into skeleton?

KC: I was getting my M.Ed. and coaching at St. Lawrence University, which was close enough for a day trip to a Lake Placid combine. I did well enough on the combine that I raced on the bobsled team my first year. I made the switch to Skeleton at the end of that season.

USABS: You had a breakout season last year on NAC. What was different from previous years? What was the experience like for you?

KC: The biggest difference was finally being able to purchase a new $6,000 sled with the help of my family, friends and a lucrative summer job. I knew I had the ability to slide well, but the difference in equipment was bigger than I had expected. I also spent the previous season sliding in Park City, which translated well to the Canadian tracks I slid for the first time this season.

USABS: What are you up to this offseason?

KC: This offseason is about finding how to make sliding sustainable physically and financially.  My off-season training took a backseat last year to save for my sled so I'm looking forward to seeing how well my push will improve with proper training. Also, look for me in upcoming film and television productions, season three of Preacher on AMC, The Dirt on Netflix and a few more that I’ve been working on.

USABS: What do you wish people knew about your sport?

KC: Contrary to how it looks — and sounds according to Leslie Jones — skeleton is relatively safe. Also, while skeleton is an individual sport, it takes an entire village and supportive teammates to be the most effective.

USABS: What is your favorite sliding memory?

KC: Talking with Dr. Michael Gervais before my first National Championship and thinking about what the worst case scenario would be for the competition. I thought of popping the groove. On my third run I popped said groove and was able to maintain composure well enough for one of my best runs. My mom was waiting for me at the finish dock, and I was just smiling because I felt like sliding is exactly what I should be doing with my life. I had found a state of flow.

USABS: What is the best piece of advice you've received?

KC: I have two. The first is something my surgeon told me after I broke both of my arms. Uncomfortableness is how we grow but pain is why we change.

The second is a quote from Dr. Michael Gervais: "Move beyond the drive for high performance; beyond the search for peak experiences. Move beyond being the best version of yourself and start noticing what fuels your fire."

USABS: What is something that fans of the sport might not know about you?


KC: I had six wisdom teeth. I broke both of my arms in one fell swoop. I do not enjoy the cold but am warmed up with the thought of competing for Team USA.

Lightning round:

USABS: What is your favorite food?

KC: Buffalo Wings.

USABS: Which USABS skeleton athlete would win an arm wrestling contest?

KC: Sam Culiver.

USABS: If you weren't doing skeleton, what would you be doing?


KC: Agave Farmer or Stunt Woman

USABS: Dogs or cats?

KC: Abyssinian Cats.

USABS: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?


KC: The fictional worlds of Wakanda from “Black Panther” or Themyscira from “Wonder Woman.” Realistically, New York City to see "Hamilton" with good friends!

Kristen Gowdy, USABS Marketing and Media Assistant,, (719) 722-0522