‘All legs’: Olympic bobsledding is much harder than it appears


Sam Isdale/Sports Columnist

Sam Isdale, Sports Columnist

With the 2014 Olympics in full swing, I’ve been watching and wondering how these athletes even get into these sports. The sports they compete in and the work these athletes do is fascinating and inspiring. A lot of the events are comprised of individuals performing by themselves, but there are a few that aren’t individual. One sport in particular that interested me and left me with many questions was bobsledding.

What type of skill does it take to be an Olympic bobsledder? While you watch it happening during the Olympics, it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard. But what I discovered is that these bobsledders make it look a heck of a lot easier than it is. Not only do these athletes have to explode off the starting line, they have to push the bobsled. The weight of the bobsled blew my mind. I didn’t know that a 2-man bobsled is almost 500 pounds, and the 4-man is 860 pounds. The way the athletes push it makes it seem like the sled is about ten pounds. The athletes need to be extremely strong in order to push it as fast as they do.

So they run, they push the bobsled and that’s it? No. They have to jump inside the bobsled quickly and tuck down smoothly so they don’t slow down the speed of the sled. Before they can even worry about getting in the bobsled they have to be lean enough so it goes fast. After they are in the sled, they try to be as still as they can. If the sled moves right, the bobsledders need to lean a little to the left.

Army Capt. Chris Fogt, part of team USA, was interviewed about the sport by The New York Times. He said he was recruited to bobsled when he was running track at Utah Valley University. Fogt also added that bobsledding is a hybrid of sports. Many track and field athletes are recruited to train for bobsled. Capt. Fogt made it clear that you cannot only be fast, you have to also be strong.

Capt. Fogt explained a bit of the training behind the sport. Because it’s a lot of legwork, the athletes do “everything legs.” He said they do a lot of squats, power cleans, jump squats, box jumps and lunges. Fogt added that they do upper body strengthening, but that it’s mostly for overall body balance. When they are in the offseason he said that the athletes lift about three or four times a week.

“While we’re training and sliding at the same time, we usually lift twice a week. On Mondays we do the heavier, slower lifts, like squats, lunges and bench press. On Wednesdays we do jumps, cleans and the more explosive lifts. And then we race Friday and Saturday,” Fogt said.

When training for a sport, athletes need the energy to perform. Fogt says that many bobsledders eat a lot of protein and carbohydrates. He also said that he goes big at every meal.

“I eat a huge breakfast. And we have a large lunch and large dinner. At breakfast I eat two pancakes, three or four eggs, oatmeal, a glass of orange juice and some yogurt. If I just eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, I’ll burn it instantly while I’m eating it,” Fogt added.

But there’s a difference from most Olympic athletes and Capt. Fogt. He serves our country in two ways: in the Olympics and, what I believe is most important, in his military work. After the 2010 games, Fogt was sent overseas to serve in Iraq.

I have a lot of respect for athletes, especially Olympic athletes, but after learning about bobsledding and Chris Fogt, it’s an honor to have him as part of the U.S. team.

Capt. Fogt ended his interview saying, “I get to wear the flag on both my uniforms, as a soldier and as a U.S. athlete. So it’s a great honor for me.”

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