After a fifth place finish at the 2010 Winter Olympics in bobsled, Bree Schaaf was determined to slide again for the U.S. in Sochi. Today, she is in Russia — but as a commentator for NBC. She’ll make her Olympic debut as an analyst for skeleton, the sport that launched her sliding career, when competition gets underway Feb. 13. Below, she writes about what that transition has taught her — which resonates whether or not you “speak crazy.”
By: Bree Schaaf
You can’t bobsled forever, but as anyone who meets me knows — you can talk about bobsled forever. That factor seems to have seamlessly transitioned me into another role — one I anticipate involving significantly less bruising. I am headed to Sochi in an extremely unique position — to act as Bobsled team alternate as well as the skeleton analyst for NBC.
I spent the first five years of my 12-year sliding career competing in skeleton before transitioning to the pilot seat of a bobsled. Twelve years of professional sleigh riding? Sounds like a Christmas movie starring the Lawrence brothers! But the few who have had the chance to give bobsled or skeleton a try just for “fun,” soon realize that it’s far too hardcore for made-for-TV movies. That is unless your brand of “fun” involves climbing into a washing machine, setting it on spin, getting pushed off a hill and slamming into boulders the whole way down. It is an almost violent 60 seconds, and something most people rarely want to repeat.
And then there are those athletes among us that not only seek it out, but choose to repeat that cycle day in and day out in the quest for Olympic glory as they try to hog-tie physics, gravity, speed, and ice all at once. It is a rare breed of athlete that is attracted to sliding sports, and for those that speak crazy — it gets in your blood and never leaves.
After finishing 5th in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the sport that I loved so much became an obsession. I was hell-bent on uncovering and quantifying those four places that stood between awesome (the gold) and just shy of awesome (5th). As it turns out, you push the universe and it pushes back. My effort to force learning how to win actually led me down a path of self-destruction that resulted in major injuries and illness. But somehow that, in turn, led me to mastery of a different sort — letting go of the illusion that I can control everything. READ FULL STORY