Kelsey Kiel on the Thrill of Her First Bobsled Run: “It Was Insane”
Kelsey Kiel said your first bobsled run is impossible to forget.
“They tell you, ‘You’re just going to have to do it, you’re not going to know until you do,” said the 30-year-old, who has gone to the CrossFit Games three times on a team. “And it couldn’t be any closer to the truth.”
Kiel was training in Lake Placid in November of 2020, looking to find a way onto the USA Bobsled team after driver and four time Olympian Kaillie Humphreys reached out to her on Instagram wondering if she might give the sport a try.
Soon Kiel found herself hurdling down an icy track like a roller coaster at close to 90 miles an hour in a metal sled that can weigh up to 400 pounds.
“I was just praying the whole time down, ‘Please don’t let me fall out of this thing.’ And you know you’re not going to fall out of it because the g-force is not going to let you fall. But I’m in this sled at Lake Placid which is known to be one of the hardest tracks in the world, and I’m with this amazingly skilled driver, but the drivers hit the walls, and when the drivers hit the walls the brakeman will shift and your butt kind of comes off the seat a little bit.”
It was a jarring experience nonetheless, but one Kiel said she quickly found enticing instead of scary.
“I was death gripping the sled because I was just convinced I was going to fly out of it. I probably held my breath the whole minute down the track, it was insane. But that’s what they always say, you’re either going to say, ‘Nope, never doing that again, I’m done.’ Or you’re going to be like, ‘Yeah let’s fucking go again.’”
Kiel, much like Tia-Clair Toomey, didn’t end up going to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, partially because of the small number of available slots, especially for women’s bobsled because there is no four person event, but she said it’s an experience she wouldn’t trade for the world.
“Bobsled is a very blue collar sport, you’re getting dirty, flipping sleds, sanding runners on these sleds for hours in the garage. So it was long days and just different, so it was just a completely different training world than CrossFit.”
Now back home in Philadelphia, training out of CrossFit OBA and part of a team alongside Joey Tortora, Nick Hecht and Ashley Wozny who are getting set to compete in Quarterfinals, Kiel said her life feels like it has come full circle. She continued, of course, bobsledding is most definitely something she would do again given the atmosphere was similar to the one she’s known the best inside the box.
“Every bobsledder, their screws are a little loose. They’re crazy, but I also come from the CrossFit world. And CrossFitters are a little crazy too.”