Summer Series: Getting to know Carlo Valdes

July 06, 2018, 9:13 a.m. (ET)

Photo: Molly Choma

 

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


2018 Olympic bobsledder Carlo Valdes began sliding following the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. He has been named to the USABS National Team in each of his four years bobsledding and earned his first Olympic berth in PyeongChang, where he pushed in the four-man event for Justin Olsen.


A UCLA graduate and Southern California native, Valdes ran track and played football for the Bruins before graduating in 2013.


USABS caught up with Valdes to talk about PyeongChang, his sliding career and his plans for the future.


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


CV: I was born and raised in Newport Beach, Calif. Growing up, I played almost every sport that had organized leagues. I played football, basketball, baseball, track & field, soccer and swimming. I was all over the place.


USABS: How did you get into bobsledding?


CV: I got into bobsledding by the advice of my track coach at UCLA. He was the one that brought up the idea in third year and encouraged me to try out once I graduated. He also told my teammate, Andreas Drbal, and volunteer assistant, Nic Taylor, at that same time to go and try out for the team. I don't know how he had a good sense of determining that we would be decent push athletes, but I'm glad he steered us in that direction.


USABS: What was your Olympic experience like?


CV: With Pyeongchang being my first Olympic Games, the experience was unreal. Korea went above and beyond my expectations and did an awesome job hosting all of us. It has always been my dream to compete at the highest level, and I had finally accomplished that dream. My mom and sister made the trip and got to watch me compete live, so having them there with me and share that experience was amazing. My favorite part of the Games was Opening Ceremonies. Walking into that stadium with my teammates and all Team USA athletes behind the American Flag was absolutely nuts. The stadium was jam-packed, and they were all going crazy. Knowing that millions of people were watching from all over the world, including my friends, family, and others who were supporting me, made that moment so much more special. When North and South Korea walked out under one flag, that was another special moment and something that I'll never forget.


USABS: What are you up to this offseason?


CV: My plans now are to take some time away from competing the next two years. I do plan on competing in some North American Cup races to help some of the guys get solid pushes and provide guidance. I will continue to train, just not at the same intensity I have maintained the past four years. I want to give my body a little break and let some past injuries heal properly. I am also working now so that I can start building a career. I am not done though, and I want nothing more than to take care of business in Beijing.


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


CV: One thing I want people to know about bobsled is the amount of work we put in every year. We sacrifice a lot in order to be as successful as we are. It's not like we show up only a few weeks or months out of the year and expect to be good. Most of us dedicate around 11 months a year to train and compete and put in countless hours a week during this time to prepare ourselves. People watching from home only see the result of all this hard work on TV which is only one percent of what we do. Social media help creates a little more awareness of our journeys, but still doesn't give people an idea of what we do on a day-to-day basis.


USABS: Do you have a favorite sliding memory?


CV: My favorite non-Olympic sliding memory will always be when Holcy drove us from 12th to 6th my rookie year in St. Moritz in the two-man race. We had a lot of fun in the leader’s box as other teams fell behind us.


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


CV: [Former bobsledder] Dave Cremin gave me the best advice when I came into the sport. We were roommates right after my rookie camp and I was still in my boot from my broken toe. Even though I was a scrub at the time, he told me ‘Keep your head down. Continue to fight back and work hard, and you'll make it in this sport.’ I listened to him.


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


CV: A hidden skill about me that not too many people outside of bobsled know about is able to crush a family size bag of chips in one sitting. I take a lot of pride in that.


Lightning round:


USABS: When you've been out of the country on tour all winter, what's the first thing you want to eat when you get back to the States?


CV: Al pastor burrito with habanero salsa.


USABS: Beach or mountains?


CV: Beach.


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


CV: If I wasn't bobsledding, I'd probably be working in real estate development right now.


USABS: If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?


CV: I'm sure people know this already, but I'd choose Hulk strength.


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


CV: I'd travel to the Seychelles if I could.


Be sure to follow Valdes on Twitter and Instagram @CarloValdes_USA!


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