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Redeeming Dreams after Mistakes with Olympic Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor

by Apr 10, 2019Competing with Character, podcast, Season 1, World-class Women1 comment

God gave me a gift to be a bobsledder, but that’s not the only thing I am going to do. There’s much more that I want to accomplish.

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About This Episode

Hardly any kids grow up bobsledding regularly or even dreaming of reaching an elite level in the sport. The same was true for Elana Meyers Taylor. As a kid she played all sorts of sports before focusing on softball, which she went on to play for George Washington University. Throughout college it was her goal to play with the Olympic team, but tryouts did not go as she hoped. “I literally had the worst tryout ever,” Elana recalls. She swung over balls, misthrew relays, and bumbled catches, all of which solidified the disappointing end of her softball career.

Hanging up her cleats didn’t just signify the end of softball, it felt like letting go of her Olympic dreams. In the midst of the post-graduation listlessness, her parents saw bobsled on television and encouraged her to check it out. A quick google search and an email to the coach of the US National Team landed Elana an invitation to give bobsled a try. After a few shorts months on the track, she attended the Olympic Trials for the 2010 games in Vancouver and a selection committee chose her for the position of brakeman for a two woman team. In light of the immense pressure to simply make the American team, the actual Olympics were like a dream. She took time to be present, enjoying the celebration of diversity, athletics, and sportsmanship. With her bobsled partner she took bronze and will forever remember the bliss of her amatuer games.

But now that she had one Olympics and one medal under her belt, the pressure was on to go for gold. She increased her training and the frequency of competition. She took silver at the 2013 World Championships, but didn’t just head home with her medal, she walked away with a ring as well. Her boyfriend and fellow bobsledder, Nic Taylor, popped the question in front of her friends, family, and fans as she got down from the podium and broadcast their love story around the world.

Elana stepped into 2014 prepping for the Sochi Olympics and for her April wedding; a welcome distraction in the midst of such rigorous training. These games felt different, however. In Vancouver she was there to experience the Olympics, soak in the culture, and participate in the celebration of nations — in Sochi she was there for gold. Rather than being selected for the role of brakeman, she earned a spot as the driver. Focused and competing well, they held onto their gold medal standing through three of the four cumulative heats. But a mental mistake early in the final heat cost them the gold. “We almost lost some of the fun of it because it was all about the medal, and maybe that’s why we didn’t get it,” Elana says. She walked away devastated and disappointed, truly more upset over not competing to her full potential than missing out on a gold medal.

Post Sochi she took a much needed reprieve from bobsled. She got married in April, and that summer trained in California at the same facility as the US Women’s Rugby Team which, like bobsled, is also known for attracting crossover athletes. Elana was invited to practice with the team and went on to play in two tournaments with the National Women’s Rugby Sevens team. “I found a community of really enthusiastic, encouraging women,” says Elana. It was the perfect change of pace after a disappointing Olympics, but she knew that her heart was still with bobsled.  She returned to the track that fall, albeit in a slightly different scenario. 2014 marked the end of a 75 year ban on women in four-man bobsled competition. With the right to drive secured Elana was immediately keen to give it a try, but she was having trouble getting anyone behind her in the sled. Her husband, Nic, was the first to volunteer to compete with her and his presence encouraged several more athletes to join. She became the first woman to compete in international mixed gender competition for the United States.

In 2018 both Elana and her husband represented Team USA in bobsled at the Olympics in PyeongChang. She was enlisted as a driver, while her husband was selected to the men’s team as an alternate. He may have been disappointed for a minute, “but he is the most positive person that I know,” says Elana. They were looking forward to experiencing the games together that year, but a week before competition Elana partially tore her achilles in a training exercise. Determined to compete, she arrived in PyeongChang in a wheelchair and had to radically alter her pre-race training to account for the injury. Oscillating between training as much as possible to be sharp, but as little as possible to recover, she needed to manage the pain and try to not do further damage. Her husband jumped on board with the trainers to quicken her recovery. He pushed her around the games in a wheelchair to cut back on walking and even refashioned her shoes to alleviate pressure on her ankle. She went on to win a silver medal that year, but wasn’t dampened by the disappointment she felt with the previous second place finish. Focused more on the experience and her efforts, rather than the outcome, left Elana feeling proud of what she offered and the medal she got to bring back with her.  “I wanted it to be fun for the people, and for the games,” Elana recalls.

Through the ups and downs of competition and injury, it’s her faith and her family that keep her grounded. Her father was a professional athlete and she credits him with instilling in her the importance of having other hobbies and passions. Even in her marriage the presence of sport is limited. “We have to ask permission to use the ‘b-word’ at home,” jokes Elana. With two professional bobsledders in the house, it would be easy to allow critiques of training, debates on strategy, or stress about upcoming races overshadow their relationship. “I have always managed to work or volunteer outside of my sport to make sure I don’t get too inundated with bobsled. ” she says. Most notably for Elana is her recent work with the Women’s Sports Foundation. The Foundation aims to encourage and advance the lives of girls and women through sports. Started by tennis legend Billie Jean King, the organization encourages professional athletes to be ambassadors to their communities, supports programs that involve young girls in a variety of sports, and advocates for sports equality for all. In 2018, Elana was named President of the Women’s Sports Foundation and awarded an honorary doctorate in Public Service from George Washington University.

Through it all she continues to train and fully intends to race in Beijing, but her regimen looks different now. Accounting for her injury and her age, she’s no longer pounding out intense workouts or testing her strength in the weight room. Her experience, self-awareness, and confidence allow her to craft a program that works for her and gives space in her life for things that matter more than another medal: service and family. Elana continues to be recognized for the inspiring woman that she is, so be sure to follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and at the Women’s Sports Foundation as she looks ahead to the 2022 Olympics and advocates for uplifting work around the world.

Read Episode Transcript
Laura:
[00:00:05] Hello and welcome to the Hope Sports Podcast where each week amazing athletes share their personal stories of
overcoming obstacles and conquering fears. To encourage you in your unique journey towards purpose. I’m your host Olympic
gold medalist Laura Wilkinson. This week we have such an influential and inspiring guest Elana Meyers Taylor is a three-time
Olympian and an incredibly decorated bobsledder. But if you’ve ever felt like your dreams were dashed with one blundered
opportunity then Elana is your girl. Hear about how she navigated a failure so big that it seemed her Olympic aspirations
would never come to be. Elana also uses her success to advocate for others. She serves as the president of the Women’s Sports
Foundation and will surely stir you to find ways to give back to those around you. All right. Let’s dive on in. Elana welcome to
the Hope Sports Podcast! I am absolutely stoked that you’re here with us today.
Elana:
[00:00:58] It’s great to be here.
Laura:
[00:00:59] Now ok. You did not start off in bobsled for what you are so well-known for now. Can you kind of give us your
background? How you got started in the sports and how that eventually led to bobsled?
Elana:
[00:01:10] Yeah so just as a process most people given a bobsled through a variety of ways and nobody grows up bobsledding.
With the exception of where do you live in Lake Placid New York or Park City Utah you might grow up doing it but for the
most part nobody grows up bobsledding. So I grew up playing a lot of different sports softball, basketball,l track, soccer, you
name it I played it. I really love softball and I went to college played softball. Played professionally with the intention of going
to the Olympics. And I did everything I could but have an Olympic tryout and had the absolute worst tryout in the history of
tryouts.
Laura:
[00:01:45] Oh no.
Elana:
It was really bad like swinging up balls over my head. It was horrendous. And then softball sticking out of the game. So I
thought my Olympic dream was over but I still had it. So I was like well what sports can I try. And it was at that point that my
parents actually saw Boston on TV and were like why not try this one? they’re looking for a woman. And I was like OK sure
why not. And I just google it emailed the coach and got invited to a tryout.
Laura:
[00:02:12] Oh my gosh I love it. You just google that right? Ey! let’s give it a whirl!
Elana:
[00:02:16] Yeah. I have no idea what I would have done if I was pre-google. You know I couldn’t have found it.
Laura:
Google saves the day! I love it. Oh, that’s insane. And so I mean it was like what? Less than three years from when you started
to when you were standing on the podium at the Olympics right?
Elana:
[00:02:33] Yeah it was crazy. That was a little bit of a whirlwind. I never would have imagined that. I knew I had a shot to
make an Olympic team but that was all I thought. I didn’t have intentions of medals.
Laura:
[00:02:46] Oh man that’s so great. So what was making that first Olympics in 2010 like? I mean was it just a dream but just in

a different sport? Or I mean was it just surreal? Describe that to us.
Elana:
[00:02:57] It was absolutely a dream. I mean the first thing is for bobsled for women’s bobsled. We have 2 men is our
traditional Olympic event and there’s 2 of us in the sled. So I was in the back and I was a brakeman and now I’m the pilot. The
brakeman position is largely dependent on a selection committee. So it’s a group of people who select you to be on the team.
Whereas the pilot the role I’m in now you actually raced races and earn points and you make the team based off of your
performance. So brakeman, it’s a much more nerve-racking position. So all the way up until like 2 weeks before the Olympics
when the team is actually announced. You’re battling it out and you’re sweating you’re nervous as a brakeman because you
have no idea what this committee is going to select. And fortunately, I was selected so that moment was just the most
incredible. Because you know it was. Truly I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. And at that moment when they named me,
it was like oh my gosh this is what I’ve been working for my entire life. And actually, at that moment I actually could relax a
little because I feel like I can go and enjoy these Olympics. I made the team. And that seemed a lot harder than actually
competing at the Olympics.
Laura:
[00:04:06] I feel like that too. Our Olympic tryouts on diving are sometimes more intense than being at the Olympics. Because
if you don’t make the Olympic team you can’t try and achieve your dreams. You know that home making the team part that’s so
critical.
Elana:
[00:04:18] Yeah. Yeah. US is tough for that too. So.
Laura:
[00:04:22] Oh yeah for sure. Now at the 2013 world championships, you won a silver medal and as exciting as that is
something else happened on that award stand that I’m willing to bet was maybe even a little more exciting than the medal. Can
you tell us about that?
Elana:
[00:04:36] Yes it was one of the most exciting days of my life. So funny enough I had been dating my now husband for two
years at the time and use a bobsledder too. And we had had the conversation. I thought he was going to propose to me at
Christmas. So I was a little disappointed with it. And we had the conversation I was like absolutely do not propose to me at
World Championships. I want championships to be about worlds. I want our proposal to be about that because we had talked
about getting married. But lo and behold doesn’t listen to me and propose to me while I was on the medal stand. But actually
it’s one of the coolest moments of my life and I’m so glad he did it. And now we have footage and now we have like all these
photos from around the world of people who are covering the event. Because you just got down on one knee got some roses for
me. Which end up because it was so cold and save from Switzerland. This rose is actually frozen. Which is kind of funny? My
hands were so swollen from racing. The ring did not fit but still that the proposal was changed so much better than any real
championship medal could ever be.
Laura:
[00:05:46] Oh that’s so epic. I love it that all the photographers are there. Everybody covered it. That’s so cool. It’s a good thing
he didn’t listen to you that one time. Right?
Elana:
[00:05:54] Yeah that one time.
Laura:
[00:05:55] you let him sneak by. Well, so how was going into the Sochi Games in 2014 different from your first Olympic
experience?

Elana:
[00:06:04] It was very different because my first Olympic experience I went in just happy to be there. You know you just oh
everything’s the most wonderful thing possible. But in Sochi I actually went in with the intention of winning a gold medal. And
that was where everything was focused on. And I felt like we had a great team in place. And I felt like my driving and my
understanding of that particular track in Sochi was in a place where we could actually go to the gold medal. So that was all the
focus. And as some part, I think we actually lost a little bit of the fun during that experience. It came about the gold medal and
I think that’s actually why we didn’t end up with the gold medal because that’s all the focus was on.
Laura:
[00:06:45] Wow. So I guess. I mean do you guys still got a silver but was that disappointing then because you were so focused
on the gold?
Elana:
[00:06:53] It was a little disappointing because we were leading in the race for 3 heats and.
Laura:
[00:06:58] You did 4 right?
Elana:
[00:07:00] Yep yep we did four heats. And then it’s total combined time. And so I was in a really good position after the first
three heats. I’m still leading the race by over a 10th of a second at least. Which is a pretty large margin bobsled to start off
with. And then I made a mental mistake and ended up making a pretty costly mistake in its curve at the top of the track. And
that cost us a good amount of time. Which ended up costing us the gold medal essentially. And I think because I put the
pressure on myself and because I had actually questioned myself whether or not I could do it. You know that’s what eventually
cost us. And because I was so focused on that gold medal and because we were so close it really changed how I looked at that
race.
Laura:
[00:07:46] Oh wow. So how did you feel after that? Like walking out the games like after that?
Elana:
[00:07:51] Oh I was pretty devastated. And you know I feel like you still win silver medal. You know it’s still a huge
accomplishment. At the same time and knowing that I could have done better. That’s the hardest thing to deal with. Four years
later the same result but a totally different experience. So after that Olympics you know I knew I could do better I could be a
better driver I could be a better athlete at that point. And that’s why I felt like I’d let myself down and my team down. So I
knew I had to make changes going into the next quad.
Laura:
[00:08:25] That’s cool. And you and Nic tied the knot shortly after Sochi right?
Elana:
[00:08:29] Yes.
Laura:
[00:08:29] so was the wedding planning distracting at all going into that games? Or was it you were able to separate and
compartmentalize?
Elana:
[00:08:35] It’s actually you know I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this but it actually gives you something else to focus on. I

feel like as athletes sometimes we get so caught up in what we’re doing. And live in these little bubbles of you know you got to
do every single thing in my sport. We’re trying to fight for every hundred. So what that comes down to is what you eat, how
much you’re sleeping, what exact time you’re doing your workouts, and you spend so much time in that focus. It’s sometimes
nice to have things outside to focus on. And the wedding planning was kind of in that regard. And I didn’t really know what I
was doing. My mom helps me fit a lot of it. She called me up one day she’s like so what color do you want for your wedding? I
said pink and she’s like OK what shade of pink? I was like there are different shades of pink? What are you talking about? I
don’t know pink shades. It is a good distraction in some regards.
Laura:
[00:09:26] It’s awesome. I love you’re like laid back attitude. That’s great. Okay, so 2015 was another huge year for you where
you made history. You became the first woman to earn a spot on the U.S. national team competing with the men as a 4 man
bobsled pilot. You went on to become the first woman to win a medal in international competition in a men’s event. And if
that’s not enough you also won the 2015 World Championships in the women’s two main event the first woman in history to do
so. I mean what? How are you doing these things? And what separates you from everyone else?
Elana:
[00:10:03] I don’t know. Grace God that’s all I could say. Fortunately, you know I’ve got really good people around me my
husband being one of them. And that was the biggest thing is when I wanted to take on 4 men in traditionally women’s bobs
but it’s just been too personal. We’ve actually been banned from driving for man sleds for most of history all the way from
1939 to 2014. Women were actually banned from driving for men sleds you know. Because I don’t know it’ll hurt our ovaries
or something like that. So we finally got the right to drive sleds and I really wanted to take it on. But it was something I when I
initially went to take it on you know I couldn’t get anyone to get behind me in the sled. Couldn’t get a brakeman and I was
having a lot of a hard time really making this happen. And my husband being a bobsledder volunteered to be the first one in
my sled. And then, fortunately, I was able to get other guys to join him really join him join me to join him after.
[00:11:02] So like I said I’ve been fortunate to have his support and the support of other people around me to really do some
incredible things and have some incredible experiences. And in that season, in particular, it was not only my husband but my
coaching staff as well to try and work together to develop a plan. Allow me to do both 2 man and 4 man races and still compete
at a high level. So it took a team literally in order to be able to accomplish those things.
Laura:
[00:11:29] That’s so cool. And that kind of leads in really well because I was gonna ask you. What’s it like having a husband
that’s also an elite level bobsledder?
Elana:
[00:11:38] Most of the time is pretty awesome. He understands me better than I understand myself and he knows what I need
before I know I need it. And it’s just great having him there with me and having him to help out with whatever I need at the
Olympics this year. There’s no chance I would have won a silver medal without him. So he’s the instrumental part of my team.
At the same time I want him to win more than I want myself to win. So it is very I can imagine me because you have children
so maybe it’s like that way for having had kids. You get so nervous when they’re competing and just it’s hard for me to actually
watch. And like not want to do something but there’s nothing you do. You just did the sidelines and just hope and pray because
you can’t do anything. That is the most nerve-racking thing I think ever.
Laura:
[00:12:32] Well I heard I read somewhere that you guys try to minimize your shop talk at home no. Like at home you say it’s
the B word or something. Isn’t there some like rule about it? What’s the rule?
Elana:
[00:12:43] We have to ask permission to talk about the B-word. Just because we really want to make sure you know this day
and age there are enough distractions out there. And we want to make sure that our marriage is secure and we’re really engaged

with each other. So we want to make sure we’re not sitting at home talking about bobsled all day. Because at one point we’re
not going to be bobsledder anymore. We’re not going to be able to do this anymore. And it’s important that we don’t spend
however many years you’ve got only focus on the bobsled. And what would we talk about in our marriage later? We’re just
going to sit around and tell all bobsled sort of stuff? It is important to develop ourselves outside of sport.
Laura:
[00:13:21] Oh that’s great! I love it. And you did mention that your husband got in with you to encourage others to get in the
sled with you. But you also got to compete with him didn’t you?
Elana:
[00:13:30] Yes. Yep.
Laura:
[00:13:31] Okay. So were you as nervous for him when he was in your sled? Or are you not as nervous then because you were
driving?
Elana:
[00:13:37] No I was less nervous because I was driving. I had control. So I could actually do something about it. So actually
that was the most fun stories. But with other drivers like I’m a nervous wreck.
Laura:
[00:13:49] I love it. You guys work well together it’s perfect.
[00:13:52] I’ll continue my conversation with Elana in just a minute but first I want to tell you more about what we do here at
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[00:15:09] And now back to the last half of my conversation with Elana. Now you mentioned getting really nervous when he
goes and he was an alternate on the 2018 men’s Olympic bobsled team. And you made your third Olympic team. I’m guessing
there was a huge mix of emotions there. Can you kind of walk us through that?
Elana:
[00:15:26] Yeah. So actually most people I feel like come off the Olympics and are pretty disappointed to be named in an
alternate spot. But you know my husband is one of the most positive people you would ever meet. And as soon as he was
named to the alternate sport yes he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be racing but same time our alternates travel with us.
They stay right if they’re not in the village they stay right outside the village. There are training sessions every day. They have
full access to the village. So they’re there with us and they’re an integral part of the team. So for him as soon as they named the
alternate selection he spent maybe a minute being bombed and then he just took it. What do I need to do to help this team win a
medal? And not only did he do that to the men’s team but he also did that for me as well. As is what is my role now and how
am I going to support my wife in trying to win this medal. So before that Olympics, I actually ended up tearing my Achilles.
So he was an instrumental part of me being able to even compete. And he’d be an alternate being able to be there every single
day helped me through that was huge.

Laura:
[00:16:36] When did you tear it?
Elana:
[00:16:38] We had a training camp a week before the Games. We were at opening ceremonies and I was doing an uphill Sprint
and came down wrong on it. And immediately felt like a shot in the leg. It was not great.
Laura:
[00:16:41] Oh my goodness.
[00:16:52] OK. Yeah. So how did you go on to be OK enough to do it at the Olympics? I mean had a tear that’s pretty
significant. That’s tough.
Elana:
[00:17:03] Yes. So it was a partial tear. Luckily it wasn’t a full rupture. And then at that point, we had MRI and everything and
we realized you know this is pretty bad. But if I could manage the pain there’s a chance I might do some worse damage. I
definitely did. But the main thing was dealing with the pain and figuring out creative ways to train as much as possible. But
also train as little as possible to get to the actual races. And so it was even to the point where I had medical treatments every
single day multiple times a day. I couldn’t walk in opening ceremonies. We literally had to limit my walking as much as
possible. I actually rolled up to the games in a wheelchair. Came off the plane and was going through Pyeongchang in a
wheelchair for a little bit. Which is pretty interesting. And then my husband recrafted my shoes to make it more comfortable.
To allow me to get his sled. And we just really got creative with our training.
Laura:
[00:18:04] Wow! That’s impressive. I mean I know most athletes are at some level of injury going in but to have a significant
tear like that. That’s something else. I mean you are battling team Germany and Pyeongchang right over for heats of
competition back and forth and you just miss out on the Gold Medal by seven hundreds of a second. But you said this is totally
different from Sochi. So what was that experience like?
Elana:
[00:18:27] Yeah. Going in with the Achilles I knew we were at a significant disadvantage I knew that would hurt us
significantly. And also we’re having some equipment issues as well so I knew the cards were against us. So I just went in and
tried to drive the four best heats of my life and I really felt like I’d put together a race that could be proud of. And that’s why
regardless of whether or not we had won a medal I would be happy with that race because we really went out there and put on
a show me and my brakeman Lauren Gibbs and I think we put on a great performance. And at the end of the day, I think that’s
where my career’s kind of shifted. It started off as all about me and what’s going on and inside my head and my hands and
really wanting to win all this hardware. But it became more about the performance and going out there and putting our show. I
mean that’s what people want to see you know working out there to perform in front of you at the Olympics millions of people.
They want to see a show. They want to see a close race 700th of a second they don’t want to see somebody winning by half a
second. So if I can give people a good entertaining show that’s what I’m out there to do.
Laura:
[00:19:33] I love how you connected that to like you understand the change and just having that different attitude. Like I’m just
going to put on my best song and be happy with what I can do and just getting the same result. Like you said you’re walking
away with a totally different feeling and emotion and memories from it. I mean that’s pretty awesome. I think that’s a great
takeaway for all of us listening to your story here. But do have to back up because right before Pyeongchang didn’t you try a
different sport randomly? What? What? Like how did that happen? And why did that happen?
Elana:
[00:20:08] Yes. So during the summers in bobsled you can train anywhere in the world. There’s no ice so we’re just doing

running and lifting. So right before Sochi I was into a Vista California at the Olympic Training Center out there where the U.S.
rugby team trains. And the rugby coach saw me and of course, I’m pretty much rugby player size and my dad is running back
to the NFL. So he saw me as like Hey! Why don’t you come over here and throw this rugby ball around and come on in and
practice with us? And I was like you know what I’m kind of busy right now not to of risks. But afterward you know I came
home from Sochi I was pretty disappointed and I just wanted to be away from bobsled for a little bit. And rugby gave me a
perfect outlet.
[00:20:51] So I was fortunate enough you know rugby looks for a lot of crossover athletes. So I was fortunate enough to go
right with the U.S. team and start training with them and go to two tournaments with them. Which was a really cool experience
and really helped me get over I guess your “Post-Olympic depression that you kind of suffer”. Especially when you’re really
disappointed with a performance like that you know. I was inundated with a group of girls who were so energetic about the
sport rugby. Which at that time was just going Olympic and they were just trying to navigate this Olympic pathway and
everything. And the girls were so welcoming and everything. It was a nice breath of fresh air right after those games.
Laura:
[00:21:31] That’s cool. Be careful because we just talked to
Alev Kelter
a few weeks ago and that’s how she got sucked right
in. So we might be needing to watch for you in the next Summer Games but I think I’m hearing.
Elana:
[00:21:41] Good now! Me and Alev actually came in at the same time. So she’s a joy. She’s awesome person.
Laura:
[00:21:48] Yeah. She is she is fantastic! Now I have to ask this because I don’t know much about the bobsled process and how
you get your teammates. Cause I know each Olympic Games you’ve had a different teammate. And you said the pilot is based
off of like points and results and how you’re doing. But the brakeman is always selected so is that hard for you? Are you
having to constantly work with different people throughout the season then? Like how does that dynamic work? So
complicated.
Elana:
[00:22:14] Yes. Yeah. They do constantly rotate throughout the season. They used to be in bobsled that the pilots used to
choose their brakeman. But in order to make sure they had the most competitive sleds possible they changed it to a selection
committee. It’s six people coaches and some of the upper-level executives who sit down and decide the brakeman for each sled.
And they look at numbers they look at physical testing numbers. They look at results of races over the season and how they’ve
done. And really try and dig into the numbers and choose the best brakeman for each sled. So I have a little bit of input but
usually. It doesn’t really it goes with whatever they see best. And as a pilot, you kinda just have to trust that they know what’s
best for your sled. Because this pilot I feel likes you can have blind spots. You could feel more comfortable with one person or
another. But if they see something that’s gonna make you faster down the hill then you have to trust them. So it’s nerve-
wracking for the brakeman to know. And in the past 2 Olympics 3 Olympics, I think the difference between making and not
making the team for brakeman over all the data we had is like 200th of the second. So it’s very narrow margins and it’s very it’s
a crushing decision. But fortunately, I don’t have to make it.
Laura:
[00:23:34] That’s so tough. Well OK, so your life is so intertwined in your sport. I mean when you train you earn a living.
You’re sitting on the boards of directors. You’re getting proposed to at an event. You’re training with and competing with your
husband. Like all of these things with bobsled. Like how do you separate Elana and your worth as a person from your
performance and your results as an athlete?
Elana:
[00:23:54] Yeah. I think part of it is my faith. Part of it is staying up with my faith and realizing that there’s more to bobsled
than you know. God gave me a gift to be a bobsledder but that’s not the only thing I’m going to do. And that’s the only thing

I’ve done. So there’s much more I have to accomplish and in that regard. My father being a professional athlete always made
sure that we had other interests because you never know when it’s going to end. I hope that I get the chance to choose when I
retire. But at the end of the day, you don’t know. So we’ve seen with plenty of athletes. They have to retire before they would
like to so I have to be prepared. I’ve always managed to work or volunteer or do whatever I can outside my sport. To make sure
I don’t get too intimidated in the day and day bobsledding and that’s my only life. Because at some point it’s gonna end and I
need to be prepared for that.
Laura:
[00:24:48] So wise. I love it. Now last year at George Washington University honored you with an honorary doctorate degree.
And now you’re the current president of the Women’s Sports Foundation. I mean does this kind of all just seem surreal? Or
These things you were hoping for and getting for one day like Long long ago? How is life taken this turn for you?
Elana:
[00:25:09] It is very surreal. I always wanted a doctorate but I thought I actually have to go to school. And so.
Laura:
[00:25:15] Most people do.
Elana:
[00:25:16] Yeah. You know. I so might do that. That’s in the cards. But as far as the Women’s Sports Foundation and being the
president of that it’s. Every day it’s such an honor to be at the helm of that organization. It’s for me it’s an organization that’s
paid such a powerful role in my life. As far as even just giving me some of the basics I needed to be able to become an elite
level Bobsledder. So whether it’s in the form of grants or whether it was in the form of support you know. Being able to go to
events and meet the most incredible female athletes in the world and being able to sit down and pick their brains. And be how
are you successful? How are you able to do this? You know it’s just been such an incredible organization towards me. So to be
able to be in this position it’s such an honor and a privilege. Like I do have to pinch myself because you know to be able to
impact girls and women in sports it’s more than I could ever ask for.
Laura:
[00:26:12] So cool. What are some of the coolest things you’ve done since being president?
Elana:
[00:26:16] The coolest things by far are the Athlete Ambassador events. The events we put on. We have Athlete Ambassador
events around the country and if anybody’s interested listeners interested we’re always looking for athlete ambassadors. And
basically, we would run events at people’s hometown. And we’d have athletes at those events Women’s Sports Foundation
athletes. And so those events have been the most incredible events I get to. Because it’s girls from a variety of backgrounds
whether different socioeconomic status different racial status it doesn’t matter. All different backgrounds and we’re working
with them in one common task and that’s learning a sport. And so to be able to see the smiles on their faces to be able to see
100 kids run up to Billie Jean King you know. Billie Jean King is 75 years old and you’ve got 6year olds running up to her
asking for the autograph. And being a part of that it’s the coolest thing I could ever imagine. And it’s just being surrounded by
kids who are so enthusiastic just to be able to get out and play a sport. Like with them it’s not about winning Olympic medals at
that point. It’s just getting out there and playing. It’s really really incredible experience.
Laura:
[00:27:27] I love it. That’s so awesome. Now you fully intend to return to the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 right?
Yeah? Once again going for gold? How’s the training going right now.
Elana:
[00:27:37] Yeah. So actually on that regard you know I’m learning that I do I am getting older I have to train differently. This
year itself coming off the Achilles injury I’ve really struggled to be healthy whether it’s you know illnesses or injuries itself. I

tend to think I’m still 22 but I’m realizing this year that I’m not. So we have to learn how to train differently and adapt things.
And that’s really been the story of this season is struggling through that and finding out what our new limits are and defining
what that is. So I feel like we’re starting to get a handle on it and go to the next three years. We’re really going to have a plan so
I can get to Beijing 2022 as healthy as possible and still competitively.
Laura:
[00:28:31] I love it. So are you gonna take up another sport for cross training in between?
Elana:
[00:28:35] Absolutely.
Laura:
[00:28:37] You are totally welcome in the pool with me I could use a synchro partner. Just gonna throw that out there. You’re
always welcome.
Elana:
[00:28:43] I could belly sucks so.
Laura:
[00:28:45] I don’t want to do that from 10 meters. That’s not going to feel good.
Elana:
[00:28:49] Ahmm you know. I’ll do different types of training than I’ve done. A little bit more yoga a little bit more a lot less
pounding and a lot less time in the weight room. So it’ll be a little bit different but I actually was thinking about this like about
a week ago. And I sat down with my husband was like you know what I think I’m done with sports. Like I’m at the point in
time where I’m just if I haven’t played before we’re not picking it up. Because in bobsled a lot of people do crazy ideas where
they’re going to try all these other sports because they tried bobsled and it worked so why not try something else. I was like No
I’m done. You know I wouldn’t mind throwing a softball around again. But as far as new sports nah were good.
Laura:
[00:29:34] Well, you are still always welcome at the pool. So I’m just keeping that offer on the table. So where can we follow
you online to keep in being inspired and encouraged by you and to cheer you on toward Beijing?
Elana:
[00:29:46] So my Instagram handle is @elanameyerstaylor my Twitter handle is @eamslider24 and I’m on Facebook. But as
always you can always go to womenssportsfoundation.org. Find more about me and the organization and all the work we’re
doing.
Laura:
[00:30:04] Awesome Elana! Thank you so much for coming on our podcast and sharing your incredible story and just inspiring
all of us.
Elana:
[00:30:10] Oh, Thank you. Please talking to you.
Laura:
[00:30:15] Isn’t she incredible? I feel like so many can relate to her story. Sometimes there are experiences like her tryouts that
just don’t go as we hope or plan and it feels like it derails our entire lives. But she was able to step into something new without
having to abandon her dreams entirely. They just took shape in a different way. I hope that you’re encouraged today that no
matter if you’re an athlete trying to make it to the top or an entrepreneur or a person with a big vision for your future. Your

dreams are still attainable even if it’s not the way that you originally envisioned it. And if you want support in ways that you
can grow as a competitor and overcome obstacles just like Elana did? Head on over to LauraWilkinson.com/performance to
grab my free guide. Five things that you can do today to become a more confident competitor. Again that’s
LauraWilkinson.com/performance. Be sure to tune in next week as we have another incredible woman a
Alev Kelter
who plays
for USA women’s rugby. On behalf of Hope Sports, I’m Laura Wilkinson. Thanks again for tuning in and have a great week.
This podcast is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler media. For more information on Hope sports and access the complete
archives please visit HopeSports.org