Pin it Emily Azevedo
"I've always had Olympic aspirations. I just didn't know bobsledding would fulfill it."

Career highlights

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2006

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Azevedo Tries Out for the U.S. Bobsled Team

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February 2008

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Azevedo Competes in her First World Championships

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October 2008

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Azevedo Podiums at America's Cup
Complete Timeline
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Emily Azevedo

Career highlights

Title

2006

Subtitle

Azevedo Tries Out for the U.S. Bobsled Team
Terrified that she might make a fool of herself, she puts on a brave face and goes for it anyway at Lake Placid, NY. "I knew if I didn't take the risk, I would regret it my entire life," she told the Boys & Girls Club of the Pike Peak Region. She makes the team!

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February 2008

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Azevedo Competes in her First World Championships
Together with driver Erin Pac, they finish eighth in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Not bad for a rookie!

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October 2008

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Azevedo Podiums at America's Cup
Sliding into the spotlight: With Pac, the girls just fall short of a victory, taking home second in Park City, UT.

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January 2009

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Azevedo Wins National Championships
With a new driver, Bree Schaff, she finally nabs her first big victory in Lake Placid, NY. Their win, which was just by 2.73 seconds, secures their spot in three World Cup races.

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February 2010

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Azevedo Goes to the Winter Olympics
She makes it! At her first-ever Olympic Games, she and teammate, Schaff, just miss the podium. They finish in the top five with fifth place.

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December 2012

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Azevedo is the Runner-Up at World Cup
With another driver, Jamie Greubel, she scores her first World Cup medal in La Plagne, France. They lost to Canadians by 28 tenths of a second.  

Emily Azevedo wasn't always a bobsledder. Similar to Olympic track star Lolo Jones, who made the giant leap from hurdling to bobsledding in advance of the 2014 Winter Games, Azevedo also got her start in running. As a University of California, Davis, 100-meter hurdler, Azevedo held the school record at 14.23 seconds (it currently ranks second). Back then, it never crossed  her mind to swap her summer sport for a winter one.

"When I finished school in 2005, my track career was over. I wasn't physically 'there' to go further with it, so I had to figure out what to do next," says the 5'8", 170-pound California native. "While watching the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, I saw driver Shauna Rohbock and brakewoman Valerie Fleming win silver in bobsledding. Then I heard that Fleming had a similar background—she ran track at the University of California, Santa Barbara. That's when I thought, 'well, maybe this is something I could do,'" she says.

Switching playing fields wasn't new for Azevedo, who had already changed athletic careers once before. A competitive gymnast from age 3 to 16, Azevedo, now 30, once thought gymnastics might be her ticket to the world stage. "I've always had Olympic aspirations," she says. "I just didn't know bobsledding would fulfill it."

As exciting as it was to find a new way to reach her Olympic goals, Azevedo knew better than to hold her breath. "It was a big joke for a little while among my friends and family," says Azevedo, who admits to running around the house and pushing a pretend sled for laughs. Still a part of her took it seriously enough to look into what she needed to do to make it as a brakewoman, which is easier to pick up than the pilot position.

"It took a lot of courage. I was really nervous about putting myself out there. My younger sister, who was in high school at the time, asked me one day, 'Why wouldn't you try this?' I had about 10 excuses—it was going to be scary, expensive, difficult. She pulled out a $5 bill and said, 'I'm your first sponsor, go do it.' I obviously couldn't let my little sister down. So I tried out and the rest is history," she says.

At age 23, Azevedo debuted in the sport for the 2006-2007 season and has been competing as a brakewoman for the eight seasons since, making her one of the oldest and most experienced athletes on the U.S. Bobsledding Team. She's cut her college sprint distance in half, covering some 50 to 60 meters in 5.5 seconds while pushing a 400-pound sled with her teammate, the driver, at full speed. "My whole job is done in a matter of seconds. I think brakemen may have one of the shortest Olympic experiences," she says. Still, no matter how short it is, she wants her six seconds in Sochi.  —Cristina Goyanes

Trivia

Training fuel
"Greek yogurt with dark chocolate almonds."
Motivational trick
"When I get down on myself, I look back at my training notebook from 2006 to see how far I've come."
Her power clean
"It used to be 154 pounds. Now, I can do 247 pounds."
Giving back
"This past year, I created a pen-pal program at my local Boys & Girls Club in Colorado Springs, CO."