Train with the best to be the best

BY Emily Azevedo

I have often been asked what my favorite Olympic moment is.  There are many moments that stick out in my head.  The first being Kerri Strug bravely vaulting her way into history and helping the 1996 ‘magnificent seven’ Women’s Gymnastics Team win gold.  Or the moment I sat in front of the television and watched Dan Jansen earn his first Olympic gold after previous failed attempts and overcoming many personal struggles.  These are just some of the many moments in Olympic history that stand out to me, but nothing can compare to the history I experienced at the 2010 Olympic Games.  Of course participating in an Olympic Games was incredible and something I had only dreamed of.  That is a moment I will never forget and is hard to surpass, but watching Team Night Train win a historic Gold on an incredibly publicized and difficult track was an experience I was honored to, in a small way, be a part of. 

After experiencing my training partner and close friends win Gold, I began to reflect back on my own journey and the team that helped me achieve my goals.  I thought back to when I first started the sport in 2006.  Back then I was a scared young girl and had not thought competing in the Vancouver Olympics was even a possibility.  I really did not know what I had gotten myself into.  I was very intimidated after meeting all the other athletes in the sport and hearing their resume of amazing accomplishments.  I knew I had a long road ahead of me in order to gain the physical abilities necessary to be an elite bobsled athlete.  After that season I began training with Coach Jon Carlock, who at that time was working with many of the U.S. bobsled athletes and is someone who to this day I work with and credit a great amount of my success to.  Curt Tomaseviz was also one of the athletes that chose to train with Jon and had quickly become one of my friends on the bobsled team.  I was inspired by his ability to quietly work hard and his capability to lead the team through his daily actions.  I knew this was someone I wanted to learn from and to train with.   Over the years I have piggy backed off his work ethic and have become the bobsledder I am today in part because of his mentoring. 

This trainingship between male and females is not very common, but I have read stories of how Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair, two famous and successful speed skaters of the late 80’s and early 90’s became friends and training partners over the years.  They pushed each other to be two prolific Olympic athletes.  My accomplishments in no way can compare to the success of Dan and Bonnie, but I can fully relate to the connection they had and the ability to push each other to be the best possible athletes.  I’ve often been asked how a male and female athlete are able to push each other in the weight room or on the track considering the difference in physical abilities.  To me, it is not the weight we lift or the speed we run that pushes us, it is both having a common goal and a mutual desire to win.  This desire fuels us to put our bodies through hell together to make this happen.  We make each other better every day just as Dan and Bonnie did on the ice and off.   Many athletes are not fortunate enough to experience this kind of invaluable trainingship that I have had with Curt these past seven years.  I believe you have to train with the best to be the best and I’d be hard pressed to find better than an Olympic Champion. 

Emily Azevedo decided to become a bobsledder after watching the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.  She made her debut during the 2006-2007 season, and finished fifth with driver Bree Schaaf at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Whistler, Canada just four years later.  The veteran had a breakthrough in the 2012-2013 season with pilot Jamie Greubel when the team slid a silver medal performance in the La Plagne, France World Cup event.  Azevedo continues to lead the women's team as the most experienced brakeman.  Learn more about Azevedo by following her on Facebook.

*Athlete blog entries are the sole opinion of each individual author and may not be representative of the USBSF or its athletes.