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Taking the Fast Lane

From atop the snow-covered Italian Alps, Elana Meyers prepares for her wild rides.

The 23-year-old athlete focuses on the details of her sport before hopping into a steel cart and barreling down a nearly one-mile ice track, letting the frosty wind nip her neck at almost 90 miles per hour.

“Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster or a high-speed car chase gone out of control,” she says.

Meyers, BA ’06, is a member of the U.S. bobsled team who has her sights set on the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. A GW softball standout, Meyers says she now is eager to share her athletic talent in a team sport with global aspirations.

“There are so many technical aspects to bobsledding and softball. My ability to focus on the small stuff in softball has helped me focus on the little things in bobsledding that make a big difference,” Meyers says.

Elana Meyers, BA ’06, (in the back of the cart) prepares to speed down the ice as a brakeman for the U.S. bobsled team.

When Meyers and her parents watched the Olympic Games through the years on TV, she never expected that she would one day make it to the Olympic level. Her mom even suggested that she would be good at bobsledding, but Meyers just laughed it off.

After college, a friend told Meyers about recruitment for bobsledding. She sent in her resume and was invited to the training camp. After a lot of trial and error, Meyers made the U.S. team as a brakeman and rides on a two-woman bobsled.

Most of Meyers’ training happens off the ice. It takes a lot of athletic and weight training because, in a sport like bobsledding, every second counts.

“Many people think about the crashing when they think about bobsledding—but really it’s not so bad,” Meyers says. While she has had her fair share of ice burns from the sport, she says nothing beats the thrill of speeding down the track: “Over all, it’s one of the scariest, most exhilarating, and most satisfying things I’ve ever done.”

This winter, Meyers and the U.S. bobsled team competed in the World Cup in Europe. Meyers says she saw the most amazing sights from the track, which was high up in the Alps, and her favorite place to visit was Cortina, Italy.

“The toughest competition to the United States is Germany, which has a very established bobsledding program, and Canada, which has some amazing athletes,” Meyers says. “Everyone is competing for their country, which only drives the competition.”

Meyers knows about teamwork. At GW, she was a pitcher, shortstop, and third baseman for the Colonials softball team. Softball began at GW in 2002, when Meyers was a freshman and the very first recruit.

During her senior year, Meyers hit a game-winning grand slam to send the team to its first A-10 Tournament. She says the experience was “one of the proudest moments of my life.” Meyers also was the first and only player in GW softball history to record 200 base hits.
During summer 2007, Meyers played professional softball for the Mid-Michigan Ice in Midland, Mich.

As an exercise science major at GW, Meyers says that many of her professors, including professor Patricia Sullivan, helped her grow academically. Meyers now is pursuing a master’s degree in sports management at GW.

Touring around Europe, training, and studying for a degree lead to a hectic schedule. But so far, Meyers—who has a penchant for adventure—says she is enjoying the ride.

—Allison Huggins