Taking the Fast Lane

Alumna Elana Meyers (pictured above right) and her team won bronze at the Vancouver Olympics.

smiling Elana Meyers holds up bobsled teammate in Olympic uniform
February 16, 2010

A former GW softball star, Elana Meyers’ new sport involves hopping into a steel cart and barreling down a nearly mile-long ice track, letting the frosty wind nip her neck at almost 90 miles per hour.

“Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster or a high-speed car chase gone out of control,” she says.

Ms. Meyers, B.A. ’06, was one of six female members of the U.S. bobsled team who won bronze at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, on Feb. 23 and 24.

“I am definitely excited about the whole experience and about competing on the world stage,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to showcase my talents, and I’m proud and honored to represent my country, my state and my school. Walking into the opening ceremonies is one of the highlights of my life.”

The Whistler Sliding Center, home to the bobsled competitions in Vancouver, is a familiar venue to Ms. Meyers. In February 2009, she and pilot Shauna Rohbock won gold at the Whistler World Cup event.

Key to preparing for the Olympic competition is staying relaxed, she says. “You are never going to be able to fully adjust to something like the Olympic Games, because it is such a big event.”

When Ms. Meyers and her parents watched the Olympic Games through the years on TV, she never expected that she would one day compete in them. Her mom even suggested that she would be good at bobsledding, but Ms. Meyers--who is from Douglasville, Ga., hardly bobsled country--just laughed it off.

After college, a friend told Ms. Meyers about recruitment for bobsledding. She sent in her resume and was invited to the training camp. After a lot of trial and error, she made the U.S. team as a brakeman and rides on a two-woman bobsled.

In the Olympics, Ms. Meyers was paired with Erin Pac, the teammate she has raced with more than any other.

“Our key to victory is relying on what we’ve been doing the past three years, knowing that we’ve put in the work, and going out there and enjoying ourselves,” she says.

Most of Ms. Meyers’ training happens off the ice. Bobsledding requires a lot of athletic and weight training because every second counts.

While she has had her fair share of ice burns from the sport, she says nothing beats the thrill of speeding down the track. “Overall, it’s one of the scariest, most exhilarating, and most satisfying things I’ve ever done.”

The past three winters Ms. Meyers and the U.S. bobsled team competed in World Cup events at venues across Europe and North America.

“The United States’ toughest competitors are Germany, which has a very established bobsledding program, and Canada, which has some amazing athletes,” Ms. Meyers says. “Everyone is racing for their country, which only fuels the competition.”

Ms. Meyers knows about teamwork. At GW, she was a pitcher, shortstop and third baseman for the Colonials softball team. Softball began at GW in 2002, when she was a freshman and the very first recruit.

During her senior year, Ms. Meyers hit a game-winning grand slam to send the team to its first Atlantic 10 tournament. She calls the experience “one of the proudest moments of my life.” Ms. Meyers also was the first and only player in GW softball history to record 200 base hits.

“There are so many technical aspects to bobsledding and softball. My ability to focus on the small stuff in softball has helped me focus on the little things in bobsledding that make a big difference,” Ms. Meyers says.

As an exercise science major at GW, Ms. Meyers says that many of her teachers, including Professor of Exercise Science Patricia Sullivan, helped her grow academically. Ms. Meyers is pursuing a master’s degree in sports management at GW but took the year off to focus on training and making the Olympic team.

Touring around Europe, training and studying for a degree lead to a hectic schedule. But so far, Meyers—who has a penchant for adventure—says she is enjoying the ride.