Summer Series: Getting to know Nic Taylor

June 01, 2018, 10:31 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.


Nic Taylor’s road to the 2017-2018 men’s bobsled national team began in 2011 after watching his former Boise State University track teammate Nick Cunningham compete in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. It took him through meeting his future wife, Elana Meyers Taylor, a brief stint in skeleton, and back to bobsled, where he earned an alternate spot on the 2018 Olympic Team.


Now, Taylor’s road continues with eyes on the 2022 Games in Beijing, China. USABS caught up with him to talk about his athletic background, offseason plans and his experience in PyeongChang.


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


NT: I grew up in Hayward, California, which is essentially a suburb of Oakland, California. I love Hayward. California’s San Francisco Bay Area is so diverse; I had childhood friends from all over the world.


As a child, my primary sports were skateboarding, martial arts and chess. Believe it or not, they all prepared me perfectly for bobsled.


USABS: How did you get into bobsled?


NT: I became a bobsledder with a lot of help from my college roommate, Nick Cunningham, and my wife, Elana Taylor. After I watched Nick compete in Vancouver, I decided bobsled was for me. Fortunately I was coaching at UCLA while bobsled Olympic team members Carlo Valdes and Andreas Drbal were attending school and competing. We all sought help from head coach Mike Maynard, and we all ended up being named to Olympic teams in some capacity.


USABS: You switched to skeleton for a bit last year. What inspired that, and what brought you back to bobsled?


NT: My venture into skeleton was actually inspired by a bet. At the time, the common belief was a bobsled brakeman could not figure out how to push a skeleton sled at a world class level, especially in a limited amount of time. In the offseason I usually work as a track and field coach at Altis, an incredible track and field environment located in Phoenix, Arizona, so I consider myself a sprint technique geek. The bet was a challenge I couldn’t pass up — within a month, I got pretty good!


Fate played the biggest role in my return to bobsled. During the 2016-2017 National Team trials, there was a shortage of healthy athletes. Strangely, our top driver at the time, and I’d say ever, Steve Holcomb didn’t have a full team. He needed someone to temporarily step in for the insanely fast Sam McGuffie.


Of course, I was inclined to race with one of my heroes, and we ended up finishing second and securing his spot on the team. That race is one of my most cherished memories. Although Steve has passed away, the memory of him and of that race will stay with me forever. I’m so grateful for it.


USABS: What was the experience of being an Olympic alternate like for you?


NT: I loved every moment of being an alternate. It’s such a strange job to have at the Olympics.

The title ‘Olympic Alternate’ has a lot of ambiguity, and that often causes much confusion. It’s very hard to know one’s duties and responsibilities, especially if it’s their first Olympics.


Fortunately for me, I have a resident ‘Smart Friend’ that I bounce ideas off of. This smart friend is Olympic champion Steve Mesler. He explained that every Olympics is different, and every alternate is different. For example in 2002, he served as an Olympic Alternate, and was named an Olympian. In 2018 the bobsled alternates were not named as Olympians, but the job remained the same. My primary roles were being prepared to push and race in a moment’s notice, to limit distractions and to provide motivation for the team.


USABS: What are you up to this offseason?


NT: This offseason I will be doing three of my favorite things: Speaking with as many youth groups as possible, lifting heavy things, and returning to school. My wife Elana and I are extremely passionate about education. This past season we had the opportunity to be Classroom Champions mentors. It was an incredible experience. We had the opportunity to mentor children all over the country.


USABS: Do you have a favorite sliding memory?


NT: At the moment my favorite sliding memory would be a three-way tie. One being the men’s national team coming together to qualify a third four-man sled for the Olympics this year. At the start of the year, [head coach] Brian Shimer outlined what qualifying would take. Needless to say it was an incredibly daunting task. Fortunately, everyone banded together for one common goal, and it worked.


The second is the aforementioned team trials race with Steve Holcomb.


The third is racing with Elana to qualify her for the national team in the four-man discipline.


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


NT: I work as a professional consultant specializing in high performance, and I build bobsled spikes for people all over the world!


Lightning round:

 

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


NT: If I could travel anywhere, I would go to Egypt.


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


NT: I love to cook. My specialty would be bacon weave breakfast tacos!


USABS: Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?


NT: Derek Luke for the young me, and Idris Elba for the older me!


USABS: When you've been out of the country on tour for a long time, what's the first thing you want to eat when you get back?


NT: Thai food.


USABS: If you weren't a bobsledder, what would you want to be doing?


NT: If I weren’t a bobsledder, I would be a shoe designer.


Be sure to follow Taylor on Twitter and Instagram @NicTaylorUSA.


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