For some bobsled hopefuls, the Olympics may be a click away

Sep 17, 2020, 6:26 AM
Olympic hopefuls...
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2018, file photo, driver Justin Olsen and Christopher Fogt, Carlo Valdes and Nathan Weber, of the United States, start their third heat during the four-man bobsled final at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. USA Bobsled and Skeleton couldn't hit the road recruiting this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. So, they made Olympic hopefuls come to them and do so online. USABS took its recruiting process digital this year and team officials say it has led to significant upticks in interest. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

USA Bobsled and Skeleton typically have staff spending part of the spring and summer months on the road recruiting, looking for new talent and luring them with the potential of representing their country in the Olympics.

This year, amid a pandemic, none of that could take place.

So USABS made the entire process digital — and so far, it’s working.

Following the same sort of thinking that works for high school athletes trying to get noticed by colleges, USABS has invited potential sliders to upload resumes and videos that show what they can do and who they are. The results have been overwhelming, both in terms of the numbers and the quality of athleticism from many who are interested.

“I would say in this short amount of time — and we’re just talking really like from May to now — I think this has been the greatest response rate of any recruiting thing that we’ve ever done,” said USABS assistant coach Mike Dionne, who handles much of the federation’s recruiting efforts. “I was shocked at the amount of responses that we were getting.”

Someone submitted a video of herself pushing a car for 30 yards in a parking lot. Another sent his rugby highlights. One woman inserted a clip of her missing what would have been a game-winning goal in a state high school soccer championship game and how she grew from that experience.

USABS already has gotten dozens of serious candidates involved, through Zoom video conferences with coaches and established athletes and past bobsled and skeleton Olympians. Team officials expect many more names to get into the mix before the Sept. 30 submission deadline for consideration this season.

The idea of taking the process online, USABS CEO Aron McGuire said, was probably overdue and is likely here to stay. Athletes submit themselves running a 40-yard dash, completing a broad jump, plus fill out a questionnaire. Just like that, they officially

become Olympic hopefuls.
“COVID or no COVID, we’ve got to be thinking about ways that we can be more efficient and really get a greater reach,” McGuire said. “We can get more athletes excited about sports and get them involved. So, this is kind of a great way to kind of reach that next generation of athletes.”

Another plus for USABS: It saves a ton of money. Budget constraints would typically limit the team to recruiting stops in 8-10 cities, McGuire said. This reach, being online, is unlimited.

“Now, we can have the entire reach of literally anyone in the world, any US citizen in the world that wants to try out,” McGuire said. “It’s much more effective in terms of that outreach.”

What happens in the coming weeks, if all goes to plan, would see many of the Olympic hopefuls travel to Lake Placid, New York, — the team’s home base — or possibly Park City, Utah, for rookie camps. Lake Placid would be where many of the incoming athletes who are seeking to be part of the bobsled program would see a push track for the first time, and coaches could start getting more information on who has the type of strength, speed and explosiveness that is needed to help get a sled down a mountain as fast as possible.

Dionne said it’s not outside the realm of possibility that someone who comes into the program this fall could still find themselves on the 2022 U.S. Olympic bobsled team. There are precedents for things happening that quickly.

And this season, it’s unclear how much U.S. national team athletes will be overseas because of the pandemic. If some top athletes are able to train in Lake Placid or Park City more for even some of the sliding season, that could accelerate the development of this year’s rookie class.

“For a bobsled push athlete, 2022 is definitely not out of the question,” Dionne said. “And we’re also trying to fill the pipeline for bobsled and skeleton drivers more than anything. On average, that can be an eight-year process before they’re ready to be in medal contention at the Olympics. So, we have to get those athletes in the pipeline.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


utah jazz educator award winners...
Andrew Gordon

Spanish Fork teacher is year’s first Jazz “Most Valuable Educator”

The Jazz "Most Valuable Educator" honor comes with a custom Jazz jersey and $1,000 grant for the winning teacher's classroom.
6 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Randall Jepson

Council chair weighs in on the future of Smith’s Ballpark

Ballpark Community Council Chair Amy Hawkins sees future green space and a place for people to relax at the site of Smith's Ballpark.
6 days ago
girls play tackle football...
Randall Jeppesen

Girls’ tackle football lawsuit reinstated

Several girls filed a lawsuit in 2017 to get three Utah school districts to create tackle football teams for girls.
14 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake Bees baseball relocating to new field in Daybreak in 2025

The new Bees baseball stadium will be privately financed by owner, The Larry H. Miller Company, and is expected to be completed by the 2025 season.
14 days ago
A Snow College student-athlete died Monday morning in a two-car accident on SR-132. Photo credit: U...
Samantha Herrera

Snow College softball player dies in car accident

Snow College student and athlete Paige Rydalch reportedly died in a car crash Monday morning. She was an infielders on the school's softball team.
15 days ago
Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates -- positive updates...
Elizabeth Wolfe, Jacob Lev and Adrienne Broaddus, CNN

‘Keep praying for me’: Damar Hamlin, breathing on his own, posts on Instagram for the first time since collapse

Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates. Positive updates Bills players say.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
For some bobsled hopefuls, the Olympics may be a click away