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Daily bobsled athlete quotes from official training at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games
Official training day #1 (2/10), women's mobobob and two-man bobsled
Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.)
(on the last time she’s been in a bobsled)
Not since the St. Mortiz (Switzerland) World Cup. I don’t know when that was, January sometime.
(on if it felt unsettling to go that long between training sessions on ice)
It wasn’t ideal. Definitely not the greatest to not be able to have those extra trips, especially since this is a very technically challenging track and there are some really great competitors from top to bottom. You’ve seen through the time sheet that some people have figured it out more than others, and now I only have four more runs to figure it out. You know, it is what it is, but I’m going to do the best that I can to make the most of it.
(on if she felt like she had enough time to get to training and competition when she was first diagnosed with COVID-19)
I think the biggest thing with Covid, we’ve seen the CT values and everything, we’ve seen a lot of people struggle to clear the test, so I really wasn’t sure what would happen. Fortunately, I think my family and I got a pretty weak strand and we were all able to clear it, but there are some people who don’t clear it for 90 days. It wasn’t a given at all. I had no idea what was going to happen. I was just praying that I’d have a quick recovery. I thought I had a good chance at two-man. I was just praying for one day of monobob training, because I did not know if I’d get out on time at all.
(on what she is aiming for in the monobob race)
Right now I’m just taking it hour by hour, literally, and just trying to figure out the track best I can and see what happens. Nothing is a given here. I think some good things can happen, but it’s going to take everything I have, and I’m going to give it everything I have. There’s some very fierce competitors; Kaillie (Humphries), Breeana Walker, the Candians. Top to bottom, it’s going to be a challenge either way.
(on how she does well on harder and colder ice)
Softer ice, less experienced drivers can make more mistakes and not have as much trouble. It is good to be on hard, fast ice. The faster the ice, the less time I have to think. Any time I think in my sled, you see the second run, I was thinking a bunch– it’s all over the shop. Thinking is bad for me, so the faster the ice is, the less time you have to think. You’re just reacting, just using your own natural skills and that’s a bonus for me. I’m excited for hard, cold ice.
(on how training in monobob will help in two-man)
Definitely, without a doubt. And the good news about two-man is that monobob I have a full week, and two-man I have a full week, so it’s two separate things. We don’t have that opportunity in World Cup weeks, you get three runs and after three runs you have to go. It’s really, really good to be able to focus on monobob, and then put it behind me and focus on two-man.
Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, Calif.)
(on how equipment is the ultimate guessing game)
It kind of is. It's an educated guess. I rely heavily on my team. It's not just my choice. I've consulted our sled mechanic, Marc (Van den berg), who has been instrumental in sleds and runners. I've talked to our coaching staff. Brian Shimer has been great. I bounce a lot of ideas off of him. He's been around for a hot second so he knows as well. So again everything, yes, there is a little bit of a guessing game but it's an educated guess based on years of experience and just knowing what is going to occur and then just seeing trends. When we were here in October, plus we are here now, we know the ice is hard. We know it's cold. The outside temperature is cold. It seems to be holding up really well so it's mostly just figuring out what set and the shape works for this track. So we've narrowed it down and now it's just trying to figure out hundredths of a second. So generally I have my fast sets and my really fast sets and now we're trying to see if they're close or if they're still a bit far apart.
(on if she said “hot second” or “hot century” for Brian Shimer)
Either one. He's been around a minute, but so have I. I think that's what's great about the sport. You do have a lot of people that have stayed, that are around, that have been here and that have not only been here but in the Olympic world too and understand new tracks, new environments, that have done the song and dance so you really rely heavily on your support staff in that sense and we've got a really great team with Usa
(on what she thinks about the addition of monobob)
I think it's very instrumental having another event, not only for women’s equality to be able to compete for the same as men in medal opportunities, but just for greater participation. That’s what we're seeing with Ukraine, Slovenia– you see certain countries that
you're not used to seeing be able to have access to the sport, which again is changing worldwide the opportunity women have in order to not only seek our sport, but to get to an Olympics and be the best versions of themselves, and I think that's super cool. I think the addition of monobob has opened the door for a lot of opportunities, which is really fantastic. I hope that continues and provides an opportunity for men too.
Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.)
(on driving a two-man bobsled versus a four-man bobsled)
I think because the four-man has a little bit more weight to throw around, it gives me a little bit more control and stability going down the track. I’m kind of one of those drivers that micromanages on my way down, and you really can’t do that in a two-man, especially on a track where there’s no pressure. Today was like my first day in four-man when I was just ping-ponging on my way down.
Charlie Volker (Fair Haven, N.J.)
(on how he’s been passing the time while waiting for official training to begin)
Pretty much just training. That’s the boring answer, but that’s the truth. It’s probably for the best that we’re not going out and messing around anyway.
(on how they’ve been able to have fun while in the COVID-19 closed loop)
We get sick of each other sometimes, but we’re going to be looking back on this for the rest of our lives and just cherishing those small moments like going to meals together. All of that little stuff that goes unrecognized when big things like this happens, that’s the goal right there. That is stuff that we’re going to have forever in our heads, and that’s awesome. Spending time with these guys, getting better every day, is something that I wake up looking forward to.
(on if there is a sense of accomplishment on getting to this point)
I don’t think so. We’re all people that like to make everything perfect if we can, micromanage things at times. I think all of these guys are super hungry. We’re never ever satisfied with anything. When we get something done, like in Winterberg (Germany), when we got third, we’re always looking forward– like how can we do this again, how can we be more consistent.
Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine)
(on finishing ahead of German Francesco Friedrich in today’s training)
That’s cool and all, but that has to happen in the race for it to really matter. So it’s certainly not bad news, but yeah, we still have plenty to work on, myself in particular. Some stuff is going well and other stuff is like ‘ok, we need to fix this,’ but it’s just a ton of fun being here and sliding with Hakeem (Abdul Saboor). He’s pushing great and we’re just trying to do the best we can and it’s going well.
(on if there’s a sense of having already made it by making the Olympic team)
None. I just enjoy sliding so much and yes, we’re at the Olympics and it’s great, but I’m so task oriented, and I’m just obsessed with driving and especially with bobsled I’m just obsessed with getting better. That’s what’s so much fun to me. I’m having a ton of fun but at the same time I’m just very, very focused on getting curves in particular and pushing and just everything. So for me I don’t know if I’ll ever say ‘I made it’ because there is always something better, something I can improve on. I’m certainly working my way up and learning.
(on if being task-oriented has to do with his military background)
It could very well be. I have some great mentors within the World Class Athlete Program, so they may be rubbing off on me. I’ve learned a lot from my bobsled coaches that have come before me and achieved some pretty great things and then the military personnel as well that have achieved some great things in the military as well as in bobsled. So for me it’s just super grateful to even be here and be in the presence of all these people that have done all the things I aspire to do.
Hakeem Abdul Saboor (Powhatan, Va.)
(on how he’s been passing the time while waiting for official training to start)
For me it’s honestly been good. I use my time in the weight room a lot. You can switch your days, sometimes when we have sliding and we have to fit in your lift and your sprints and so forth on different days. So when you don’t have sliding then you can concentrate solely on that. So it’s not bad to have off for me. I kinda enjoyed it and now I’m ready to fire back up. Got some rest days so no excuses now. We just put the pedal to the metal.
(on how he thinks Frank Del Duca is handling the pressure of his Olympic debut)
It seems to me like he’s always been here. I mean I’ve slid with Frankie for a long time so we’ve had a lot of history together on the team together. He’s been doing great. You would never know that he hasn’t been on the World Cup. He’s been just like everybody else. He fits right in and he’s ready to drive to the best of his ability.
(on having the entire team in Beijing since the remaining coaching staff and athletes have arrived)
It’s great to have all the team here. We’re all just fired and ready to go. It’s nice to have the whole squad back together and we feel like a family again. It’s been great.
Official training day #2 (2/11), women's mobobob and two-man bobsled
Kaillie Humphries (Carlsbad, Calif.)
(on wearing USA on her uniform)
Just knowing what into this, knowing who I’m representing– the people, my teammates, my coaching staff– it is a very different feeling. This has been a very long journey, a very hard fought battle to get here, and it definitely feels very different. I’m very honored and proud to wear USA and I’ll continue to do my very best to make the country proud.
Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.)
(on how he felt about his training runs today)
It’s a little better every day. That was my fourth two-man run, and it’s drastically different from the four-man, which I think completely caught me off guard. Kaillie kind of put it in perspective; everything in the two-man is just going to be amplified, so if I can really get things done in the two-man this week, hopefully it will pay off next week with making sure I’m on the right program, the right track. That was my best two-man run so far. It wasn’t great, but it was the straightest run we’ve had. Another day of that, and then kind of hoping that everything this week pays dividends going into next week.
Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine)
(on areas of the track he’s working on dialing in during training)
The exit of 4 and the exit of 13. Today the exit of 13 was much better, which was good. The exit of 4 was a little bit better, but still not where it needs to be. I think this track in particular, you have to be clean up top, here more so than anywhere else. I really want to get that exit of 4. We’re close, but we’re not quite there yet.
Kris Horn (Pembroke, Mass.)
(on his first day of two-man training on the 2022 Olympic track)
I’m feeling good. I’m just here to compete.
(on how his family stateside is supporting him)
They are all pretty excited. I get texts everyday, texts and phone calls. My dad was pretty bummed because we’re going to have more family spectating you than the Chinese.
(on where his family will be watching from)
They are all over the U.S. right now. Massachusetts, Florida, Iowa. There will probably be a few massive watch parties.
Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.)
(on spending his birthday at the Olympics in China)
I’ve always had my birthdays in many different countries. Russia, Germany, Austria, Korea, China, Mexico, I mean, you name it, I’ve been there for my birthday. It’s cool to have it here. The fact that they recognize it for all of the athletes who have birthdays during this time is cool too. I do appreciate these guys for celebrating.
Official training day #1 (2/15), two-woman bobsled
Elana Meyers Taylor
(on how much rest she was able to get after winning the silver medal yesterday in women’s monobob)
That’s the biggest thing, just trying to recover as much as possible and also get some quality training runs in. I’m pretty tired, I’m not going to lie. It took a lot to do what we did yesterday, so just trying to come down off of that and trying to reset. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for everyone out here who did monobob as well.
(on how late she was up last night after the medal ceremony)
Not too late, I think we did interviews until about 10 or 11 o’clock. The hardest thing for me is just coming down off of races anyway because of adrenaline. I always have trouble getting to sleep. I think I sent out a message to the team at like 3 a.m., just sleeping in waves, trying to figure out how to make it happen. I think the hardest thing for me is usually Nic calms me down, and Nic is able to make sure I get to sleep, but I can’t sleep in the same room as him right now. He’ll get out of close contact tomorrow, so hopefully that will help.
(on how it’s been waiting for her turn to train and compete)
It’s been one of those things, a hurry up and wait type scenario because we got here on the 27th and then I wasn’t able to do any of the previous training runs before official training started for monobob. I’ve been pretty antsy to get into the sled. I’ve been going on track walks, I’ve been watching videos, and just trying to support the ladies the best way I can until it’s my turn to get into the sled and my turn to do what I need to do to make sure that me and Elana get down the hill as fast as possible. I’ve been super excited for everything, but today was the day– I’m going to go down the hill and it’s going to be amazing.
(on if she was overwhelmed today)
I think I had a calm sense of where I am and what I need to do for today. I feel like there’s a lot to do within our two to three official training days, so for me it’s just about coming in, executing, doing what I need to do to make sure me and Elana have the best push going down the hill. I think most of my excitement was yesterday. I got to watch Elana and Kaillie and everyone else in the world do their best out here, and then we had two of our best pilots in the world for Team USA win silver and gold, back-to-back. That for me was super exciting to watch and witness, and be present in the moment and just enjoy it and come out the next day and be like, OK, they went out and handled their business for the monobob event, now it’s time for two-woman. It’s time for me to do what I need to do to make sure we come away with a gold medal.
(on sliding the day after winning gold in the women’s monobob competition)
Sliding the next day, never done that before! I’m tired, I won’t lie. I had to rely heavily on Kaysha. I was like, ‘don’t look at the numbers. Let’s work on our timing. Let’s focus on the steps and the process.’ I don’t have much so she really had to step up today, but I’ll be ready come two-man race day.
(on if she will take a day off before the two-woman competition)
We’re gonna do two more tomorrow and then both her and I have decided it’s going to be best for us collectively as a team, as well as it’s what we want individually which is nice. Our individual plans line up with what we want as a team to take that day off before going into two days of racing.
(on taking the day off before a competition)
It worked a couple of days ago, but both Kaysha and I are used to having the day off before a race as well. So just from the performance aspect, we’re used to training, having a day and then going into racing, so just sticking with consistency, with what we know, and doing our own personal plan and what’s best for us.
(on how different it is competing in two races at the Olympics)
It’s different having to plan and prepare and knowing that you can’t just stay up until all hours and not really care afterwards. I have another race. I’m accountable to another person and still to Team USA. This is what we asked for so here we go! Right back into it again, a whole other event, but I’m really, really excited for it. I’m excited to be teammates with Kaysha and to see what we can do.
(on if seeing the medals that Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries won made it feel real)
It became really real, real fast. It was just inspiring to see the entire season of what Kaillie has gone through, through thick and thin, literally from day one of the season to yesterday, was just incredible. To watch her journey and how she handled all of that and all of the pressure that came her way was just inspiring and it made me super excited to know that I’m going to be in the back of her sled in a couple days and to potentially do that same thing. So it’s just a very good feeling to know that she’s giving her all out there and it’s an honor to be pushing her for our country.
(on waiting for the two-woman bobsled competition to start)
It’s definitely been like an anxious feeling. It’s kinda getting antsy to get out there and get started but monobob really helped, like honing in and helping Kaillie get on the track. She can’t win that medal without teamwork so I just put some of that antsy energy into making sure that she doesn’t have to worry about the stuff on the back end. All she has to worry about is driving and staying focused there, and so that kind of helped some of my energy, steering it towards making sure the sleds were ready, sanding runners, all that stuff.
(on her game plan going into race day)
Just taking it day by day. I am a big believer of not making a moment bigger than it is. This is the same rodeo, just a different show. We’re in the exact same place, we’re competing against the same girls, it’s the same stuff we’ve been doing. My job is easy, I’m just pushing Kaillie, so it’s just that simple. I’m just trying to take it day by day and not overthink anything and just let it be what it’s going to be.
Official training day #2 (2/17), four-woman bobsled
(on how it feels being back in a four-man bobsled)
It feels like home. My runs have been night and day. There’s a lot that I’ve been able to carry over from the two-man week to fix in this week. There’s still little things that I am nit-picking here and there and I think we can find a lot more speed at the top half of the track.
(on how his push team is doing)
I think these guys are unbelievable, and they are going to be pushing start records on race day. Which is crazy.
(on experimenting with equipment)
We’ve been trying some different things with equipment, which I didn’t have that opportunity in two-man last week because I was just trying to learn how to drive. It’s exciting. It feels good.
Frank Del Duca
(on being in a four-man sled after racing in two-man)
I feel good. We reflected on what we did, the good and the stuff we can build off, and the stuff that we need to fix. We’ve just been excited about four-man. Some of the guys only took maybe one or two training runs in the two-man and didn’t race so we have a crew that is eager to show their stuff.
(on if issues he had in two-man carry over to four-man)
A lot of the same stuff. Some stuff is easier in the four-man, some stuff you need to be more precise sometimes, so it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. There’s way more stability. You can put the sled right where you want it but if you make a mistake, the mistake sometimes is a little larger. But it’s cool. I’m excited for the race. I’m excited for training. We have some speed. I just need to clean up a couple of things and then we bring the heat at the start on race day and see what we can do.
(on how it feels to finally be in a sled after arriving late due to a positive COVID-19 test in the U.S.)
The whole time I was home I was worried that there’s a chance I’m not going to make it. Over that two weeks you keep getting your hopes up, and then things keep not happening the way you’d hope they would. You start to wonder if it’s better for me to just plan on the worst. Actually getting here, getting on the ice, I’m so excited. A few days in now and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m a part of it, but there’s still a little part in the back of my head where I’m still hesitant. But at the same time, I’m excited to be here and now a couple days out from the race it’s starting to feel a little more real. That’s all I’ve wanted the entire time, to feel like an Olympian. I’ve been set back and watching everyone experience everything and it’s nice to have some experience of my own and feel like I’m here for what matters, which is the race.
(on what it feels like to finally be on ice for his event in four-man)
I’ve worked and waited for four years for this moment. I’m excited to step on that start line at the Olympics representing my country, and to race with my teammates and friends and hopefully put down some fast start times.