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Until seven years ago, Jamie Greubel had never set foot inside a bobsled. Like teammates Lolo Jones and Emily Azevedo, she was a track star in her younger years, running on the track & field team at Cornell University. In 2007 she joined the women’s U.S. bobsled team thanks to the encouragement of her roommate at the time.
“I wasn’t satisfied with retiring from sports after Cornell,” Greubel tells SHAPE. “I was always good at sports, but I never realized I could be an Olympian until a friend of mine suggested that I try bobsled.”
While the transition from running to bobsled is relatively common, it requires a totally different approach to training. “I had to gain 20 pounds to even make the team,” Greubel says. “We have a minimum weight the sled must weigh and a maximum weight for the sled and the two athletes during the race. You want to be as close to the maximum as possible because heavier things go faster downhill.”
Jamie started as a brakeman, serving as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Vancouver in 2010, and soon after that she transitioned to the role of driver.
Though her star has risen steadily in the sport, Greubel stresses that bobsledding takes a ton of work. And indeed, bobsledders have to train in a multitude of ways before they even get on the track. “It’s like training for three sports plus being a mechanic,” Greubel says.
Surprisingly enough, Greubel and her teammates only spend about six minutes a week actually practicing bobsledding. Before they even think about getting out onto the track, they spend hours sprinting, lifting weights, and prepping their bobsleds for races. Combine that with the hours spent on video analysis and sled work, and you’re looking at the equivalent of a 40-hour work week.
Will all those long hours result in a medal in Sochi? If this season is any indication, she has a solid chance, as she has had multiple podium finishes in races in Park City and Lake Placid. But we won’t officially know her Olympic fate until January 19 when the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team is announced.
“I’m doing what I’m doing today because I love it, not because it’s easy and not because I’m making any money doing it,” she said in an interview with TeamUSA.org. “The Olympics is the ultimate thing that you can compete in in sports. So for me, I wasn’t ready to stop until I reached the top.” —Alanna Nuñez