Enjoying every crazy moment
The Sochi Olympics was an incredible experience, and I’m thrilled to the moon (and back!) with the effort we put out. The whole USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation did amazingly -- our best since 2002, and then we had a home-field advantage. So to come to Russia and have the kinds of performances we did on Russian soil was just incredible.
I’d driven with Lauryn Williams, my brakeman, for only one race in Lake Placid before we came to Sochi. We’d probably done only a total of 10 runs together before racing in the Olympics. Because of that we did everything we could to get on the same wavelength and try to develop that winning chemistry. We were roommates, we ate together, we were even dressing alike! Lauryn is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. Coming from track, an individual sport, you wouldn’t necessarily expect her to know how to be such a great teammate. But it seems like she’s been doing team sports her whole life and her attitude is infectious.
It was certainly eventful for us, starting before the competition even began.
On a training run two days before the race we had an incident with the outrun, the part of the track after you cross the finish line.
I went into a skid at the end of a practice run and Lauryn was trying to pull the brakes. Our runners got stuck and I couldn’t drive away from the wall. A bobsled is kind of like a car and, the whole steering component -- the whole front axle -- came out of the sled. We skidded and collided headfirst with the short wall. It was probably the hardest hit I’ve ever taken in a bobsled.
I had a little bit of whiplash, but thanks to a great sports medicine staff I didn’t feel anything going into the race. Our sled was totaled, though.
Fortunately, and with many thanks to BMW, we have great mechanics -- David Cripps, Richard Laubenstein and Cheech Garde. They’re Formula One guys who did an amazing job rebuilding the sled overnight. It was unbelievable. During the race, it ran just like it had before the accident.
I love the Sochi track, but there’s no question it’s a very technical one. It’s pretty difficult to drive, and it showed during all of the runs -- not just mine. I made a couple of mistakes, and thankfully we had the benefit of a fast push that bought me a little wiggle room. In the end, we earned the silver medal. Kaillie Humphries of Canada drove that track really well and that’s why she has the gold medal.
So there were a lot of things that happened before and during the race, but I am super excited for Lauryn and me. We put our heart and soul into that race and that’s what made it fun. Both of us made a little history with our silver medal (she became the first American woman to medal in both a Summer and Winter Games, and I became the first U.S. female bobsledder to win two Olympic medals). To share that moment with her was extra special.
One of my favorite parts of the Games was getting to meet and hang out with the other athletes. I already knew speedskater Heather Richardson from some BMW events (she’s also a BMW athlete), but I also met her teammates Brittany Bowe and Sugar Todd. They were really supportive and came to our races. And I’d met Shani Davis in Vancouver, but it was fun to catch up again. I challenged him to a race on the bikes they gave us to ride around the village. (He turned me down.) I hadn’t been on a bike in a long time, and it was so fun.
We also got our hair and nails done in the village and had some serious air hockey tournaments. I beat all the brakemen, and the running joke was that they let me win because they couldn’t have their driver’s confidence take a hit. But I know I won fair and square!
Now I’m finally home in Douglasville, Ga., after an epic journey back from Sochi. It took five flights and four different airlines to get here. We went from Sochi to Moscow, Moscow to Zurich, Zurich to Washington… and then I missed my next flight out of Dulles.
We had to switch D.C. airports and fly out of Reagan (which, if you know D.C., is not all that close to the Dulles airport). I then flew to Charlotte, and finally got home to Atlanta. I left at 1 a.m. Sochi time and got in at 1 a.m. in Atlanta on the next day. My body is just really confused about now. Though on the upside, I did log a lot of frequent-flier miles!
Now, I’m quickly back to reality. I went to an event on Monday night with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in which I paid a surprise visit to some kids in the hospital to show them my sled. Then next week I’ll start back with some online classes in securities analysis with DeVry’s Keller Graduate School of Management. I’m working toward an MBA degree. It’s also time to get serious about wedding planning -- in two months I’ll be Mrs. Elana Meyers-Taylor.
Life is crazy, so I’m just taking it all in, trying to enjoy it as it comes.