The New York Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) hosted the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) Development Camp March 9-18, 2022. The program provides young athletes from around the world with an opportunity to develop driving skills in the sports of bobsled and skeleton. The goal of the program is to provide access to sliding sports for nations without sliding tracks and to expand participation in sliding sports to non-traditional sliding nations. There were seven skeleton athletes and 21 bobsled athletes from ten nations (Slovakia, USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Belgium, Switzerland, Latvia) training on the track. Additionally, several Para Bobsled athletes were training.
Lake Placid has a long-standing open-door policy for international bobsled and skeleton athletes to learn the sport, including, famously, the Jamaican Bobsled Team. Notable 2022 Team USA Olympic Bobsled stars also got their start here, Kaillie Humphries (3 Gold, 2 Bronze Olympic Medals) and Elana Meyers-Taylor (3 Silver, 2 Bronze Olympic Medals).
One major event from the week is when 14-year-old Emily Bradley piloted a bobsled Tuesday, March 15, 2022, from Start 1, the highest point, on the bobsled track at Mt Van Hoevenberg to become the youngest ever bobsledder to pilot the entire half-mile track. This is the same track and same starting point on which world-class athletes reach speeds of 75 mile-per-hour in training and international competition.
Bradley set her record Tuesday as part of the IBSF International Development Program. The previous record was set in 2001 by John Napier, who was 15 at the time. Later in his career, Napier went on to win a National Championship in 2009 in the two-man bobsled and then competed with Team USA in the two-man bobsled events in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Bradley is the daughter of Michael Bradley, who was a bobsled athlete in the US Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).
Testimonial from Michael Bradley
Emily became interested in the sport of bobsled after watching the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. She witnessed women making history in the monobob event which was being featured for the very first time in the Olympics – The U.S. Women’s team took gold and silver! The sport of bobsledding isn’t one that you hear about young girls doing, especially in California. But Emily has a unique link to the sport. I raced for the United States Bobsled Team until 2010. I started the sport at 12 years old and raced in the US, Canada, and Europe.
When I could tell that Emily was serious about wanting to try bobsled, I made some calls and wrote emails to old friends who were still involved in the sport. I was told that a development camp was starting in just two weeks in Lake Placid, NY. Lake Placid is where I learned everything I know about bobsleds and was like a second home to me as a teenager. We booked our flights and the next thing we knew; we were setting her up to drive on the most difficult track in the world!
She started from the middle point of the track where her speeds would be lower and more manageable. This allows the drivers to learn the track little by little and work their way up to the top of the mountain. Driving from the top of Lake Placid is no easy task. It typically takes weeks, even months, of endless runs from lower start points to develop the skill and confidence to successfully pilot a bobsled at 70mph down from the top.
However, Emily was a natural at driving bobsleds and in just five days of training, and having only 15 runs under her belt, she became the youngest athlete to ever drive a bobsled from the top of Lake Placid bobsled on March 15, 2022! The previous record was set 21 years ago by Olympian John Napier when he was only 15! John was even there that day to pass the torch and cheer Emily on. Emily has broken barriers in the sport of bobsled with this accomplishment. She plans to continue training and racing with hopes of reaching the Youth Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Korea in 2024.
Testimonial from Emily Bradley
“So, I started at start four, moved up, moved up and I got to start two, but I was really nervous. And I did a few good runs, and I was like, ‘You know what? I think I’m ready. I’m ready to handle that speed. I’m ready to do it.’ And it was like a gut feeling. It wasn’t really a decision, it was just a feeling like, ‘I can do it. I have this confidence and I’m going to go do it.’ I went up there and I did it.”
“One hundred percent do it. If there’s an opportunity or there’s a thought that you want to do it, just go out and do it. A few weeks ago, I didn’t even have bobsledding in mind, and I came out here and I love it and I want to keep doing it. If there’s an opportunity, just go for it. There’s nothing to lose.“
Michael Bradley on ORDA Improvements:
“This is a sport where it’s cold and it’s sometimes snowing…a lot! It’s hard to be a spectator of bobsled, so having all the covered areas where people can really enjoy this sport and witness what these athletes are capable of is amazing. I’m truly impressed with what ORDA has done here and the amount of work that’s gone into just Mt. Van Hoevenberg, as a whole. The new lodge, indoor push track, and even the quality of the bobsled track and ice conditions showcase why Mt Van Hoevenberg stands out amongst any other winter sliding sports venue in the world.”