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.”

Today’s Top Stories


Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooz...
Waverly Golden

Wheelchair Palooza at Woodward Park City

Aaron Fotheringham, aka "Wheelz" from Nitro Circus taught and performed tricks at Wheelchair Palooza in Park City.
19 hours ago
Screenshot from the BYU documentary about the Black 14. 10 of the players are pictured next to a ne...
Chris Jacobs

BYU premieres documentary ‘The Black 14: Healing Hearts and Feeding Souls’

The new BYU documentary, "The Black 14" Healing Hearts and Feeding Souls," focuses on a 1969 football game between BYU and the University of Wyoming.
2 days ago
EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 17: The line of scrimmage between the Oregon Ducks and the Brigham Young Cou...
Curt Gresseth

Reporter talks about ugly chant from students at BYU-Oregon game

A Deseret News reporter tat the BYU-Oregon football game on Saturday talks about the anti-LDS chant heard and filmed from the student section and what may happen next.
5 days ago
Easton Oliverson, the Little League baseball player, who was injured in a fall from a bunk bed, ret...
Adam Small

Injured Utah Little Leaguer returns home, family files lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by Easton Oliverson's Utah family is against Little League Baseball and the makers of the bunkbed involved in the accident.
5 days ago
The little league player that was critically injured after falling off a  bunk bed is now fighting ...
Randall Jeppesen and Mark Jones

Easton Oliverson family files lawsuit against LLBB and bunk bed makers

A lawsuit has been filed by the family of Easton Oliverson against Little League Baseball and the makers of the bunk beds he fell off and injured his head just prior to the Little League World Series.
6 days ago
Utah school sports...
Chandler Holt

Two studies sum up Utah’s professional athletic abilities

Just how athletic is Utah? How many pro-athletes are from the Beehive state? Two recent studies shed light on these questions..
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
For some bobsled hopefuls, the Olympics may be a click away