A gymnast all her life, Megan Hill extended her athletic career by transitioning to track and field while at Auburn University. The next logical step for this master’s degree holder in health promotion was to take up bobsledding, test fate going 80 miles per hour in a 350 pound sled, make the U.S. National Team and prepare for a run at Olympic gold.
If not for the American flag in the background of her picture I’d think I was getting the runaround.
Last I checked there wasn’t a Bobsled Little League and if they had a bobsled team at my high school then I definitely missed the tryouts. How does a girl from Woodstock get into bobsledding?
I heard about it from one of my track coaches at Auburn. The U.S. Bobsled Team had recruiting events every summer all over the country. I went to one last summer in Orlando and that is how it all started.
What kind of training regimen do you keep?
I have to train like a sprinter and an Olympic weightlifter. I am working with Steve Putman at B.L.A.S.T. Training Institute in Suwanee for my running and sprint mechanics and I’m working with John Coffee at Coffee’s Gym in Marietta for weightlifting. I work out six days a week, with Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays being two-a-days.
I get a little fatigued just thinking about that commute. Tell me about the sled itself. My minivan has automatic sliding doors, a DVD player and about 17 cup holders. Does your sled have any features like that?
The sled itself is just like your minivan… just take away the sliding doors, the DVD player, the 17 cup holders, the seat belts, the air bags, the windshield, the radio, the heating and air conditioning, the engine, the roof, and swap the tires for steel blades. There is no luxury to a bobsled, however, it is very aerodynamic and can break any speed limit in Georgia!
How about a nice, cushy seat?
The seats are not cushy at all, but we will duct tape padding on the inside of the sled, especially for practice. Also, I wear lots of padding on my body when I slide. Special thanks to McDavid USA’s HexPad technology (mcdavidusa.com).
Do you talk to your teammate when you are tucked down in there? Is it more strategizing about the race or recapping last night’s episode of True Blood?
No we don’t talk, although, there is a lot of praying that goes on when we are in the sled.
In just one year you went from brakeman to pilot and from the little I understand, that means you are the one driving that bus. Can you explain a little about the different positions?
In women’s bobsled there is only the two-man bobsled, unlike the men who have both the four-man and two-man, so there are only two positions – the brakeman and the pilot. The brakeman pushes the sled from behind and then hops in, goes for the ride, and then pulls the brakes at the bottom. The pilot pushes from the side and then hops in and steers the sled down the track. I competed my first season as a brakeman. When the season was over I went to “driving school” up in Lake Placid. I enjoyed driving so much that I have decided to switch positions and compete as a pilot for the 2011-2012 season.
That’s got to be the biggest endorsement for driving school of all time. Does it get embarrassing that every time you walk into a supermarket everyone starts chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”?
I have yet to experience that, but will be honored when that becomes true. The ultimate goal is to represent America in Sochi in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
To check out more of Meg’s training adventures, visit megbobsled.tumblr.com.