Summer Series: Getting to know Kristi Koplin

April 24, 2018, 3 p.m. (ET)

Photos: 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.


Kristi Koplin was born in American Fork, Utah, just a short distance from the city that would later host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. After moving around as a kid and a college track and field career at Southern Utah University, Koplin would make her way back to Park City, this time as a bobsled athlete.


Koplin began bobsledding in 2010 and served as an alternate on the 2014 Olympic Team. She then switched to piloting and has been competing on the North American Cup (NAC) for the past four years. She medalled four times during her 2017-2018 campaign.


USABS caught up with Koplin to talk about her bobsled career, her time in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and her plans for the summer.


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


KK: I was born in American Fork, Utah and moved around a lot because of my father’s job in the US Army. I moved to San Francisco as a young kid and began taking swim lessons and joined the Presidio Swim Team around five years old. I continued to swim at every location I lived — St. Louis, Missouri; Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and Lehi, Utah — on summer swim leagues. Once I entered into high school, I continued to swim, play water polo and compete in track and field.


USABS: How did you get into bobsled?


KK: I attended Southern Utah University on a track and field scholarship. I threw the hammer, discus and shotput, and my senior year I competed in NCAA Division I National Championships. Following my last collegiate competition, I received a Facebook message from Elana Meyers Taylor introducing me to the sport of bobsled. I have always been an adrenaline junkie and thrill seeker, so the idea of going down an icy bobsled track at high speeds was extremely appealing, and I was beyond excited to combine and get my foot in the door.


USABS: You're also in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. Can you talk about your experience in the Army?


KK: I grew up moving all over the country with my father’s job in the U.S. Army. I decided during my sophomore year of college to join the Army’s ROTC program to serve my country, travel and work in new places and continue the Army tradition in my family. I had such fond memories of being an "Army Brat” and I was excited to continue in my father’s footsteps. Following my graduation from college, I received my commission and had orders to go to Texas for Officer Basic Course. During this same time, I also had received the Facebook message from Elana, and was planning on trying out for the bobsled team. My commander at my ROTC unit, MAJ Caldwell was extremely supportive of my athletic endeavors and helped to find a way to help me pursue bobsled while serving as a Recruiter for the ROTC. Following my national team debut during the 2010-2011 season, I applied for the World Class Athlete Program and was accepted into the elite program.


USABS: What are you up to this offseason?


KK: This offseason, I am making some big changes as I am exiting the Active Duty Army in order to continue to pursue bobsled. Ideally, I will move to Lake Placid to live and train at the Olympic Training Center, work part-time as a Registered Nurse, and spend any other free time outdoors. I absolutely love swimming, biking, camping and spending quality time with my friends and family.


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


KK: I wish people knew more about the behind-the-scenes action related to the sport. Mainly, the hours spent in the gym, in the garage, and everything that goes into that one minute or less run down the icy hill. I  wish people could see the blood, sweat and tears that make that one minute run down the hill truly worth it.


USABS: What is your favorite sliding memory?


KK: I have so many good memories from bobsled, it’s really hard to choose just one. However, since I have to choose, I absolutely love my memories from driving school with my teammates Katie Eberling, Chris Langton, Andreas Drbal, and Mike McCarty. Katie and I switched off braking and piloting and truly made the most of the learning process. The sled that we were driving had an extremely small frame and was bruising and destroying our hip bones. Because Lake Placid didn’t have a Marshall’s yet, the only padding we could find at the time was baby diapers that we got wet so they turned into a jelly. Utilizing the baby diapers, Katie and I were able to pad the sled’s frame. The entire driving school experience left our tummies sore from laughing so hard and finding absolute enjoyment in the process of learning such a technical sport.


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


KK: I always go to my dad for advice related to life and important decisions to be made. Recently, I was trying to decide whether to continue pursuing bobsled or to continue my Army Nursing career. My dad’s advice was to continue to pursue my passion and to do whatever I can to make my dreams come true. Though seemingly simple, I appreciated this advice coming from my father who has always supported me and encourages me to do everything I can to be my best.


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


KK: I grew up playing the piano but now I can only play one song by memory which is “Winter Wonderland.” I’ll pull out my one-hit wonder every year around Christmas time.


Lightning round:


USABS: What is your favorite food?


KK: Mexican.


USABS: Where is your favorite place in the world?


KK: Hawaii.

 

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


KK: Working as a traveling nurse and living on a boat.


USABS: Dogs or cats?


KK: Cats.


USABS: Can you cook? If so, what's your specialty?


KK: I enjoy breakfast and absolutely loving making different varieties of avocado toast.


Be sure to follow Koplin on Twitter and Instagram @kristikoplin!


Kristen Gowdy, USABS Marketing and Media Assistant, kristen.gowdy@usabs.com, (719) 722-0522