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    Since I've posted periodically over the years about the Bobsled/skeleton team (BobTeamIsrael.com) and back when I was doing my skeleton run, it was suggested that it might be fun to have a semi-regularly updated thread on how and where the team's doing on our road to 2022.  It can provide an insight as to how some Israeli Olympic efforts operate and run.  Some of the team members and myself will also occasionally drop in a kind of "blog" as we progress through the run.  Feel free to follow this thread through the next 15 months or DM any questions.

    Brief About Me:
    • AJ Edelman
    • 2018 Olympian
    • Bobsled pilot/driver
    • Modern Orthodox--Maimonides School (Brookline, MA) class of '09

    About the team and organization:
    This past year I recruited 4 rugby players (3 ISR National team Druze (Arab ethnic and religious minority) athletes and an American as well, the 2017 Maccabiah Rugby MVP) to join a 4-man team en-route to the 2022 Olympic Games.  It's a competitive team with a very large chance of making the '22 games (I expect us to make it.)  I am the team's pilot (I am in the front of the sled driving) and general manager. 
    We are licensed by the Israeli Olympic committee and the Israel Bobsleigh/Skeleton Federation which has been around since 2002.  We would be the first Olympic bobsled team to qualify Israel.

    Social Media:
    Facebook (AJ): Fb.com/IsraelBobsled
    FB (Team): Fb.com/bobteamisrael
    Instagram (AJ): Instagram.com/ajedelman
    Instagram (Team): Instagram.com/israelbobsled

    Timeline:
    • Nov '20--April '21: In-season training and a few competitions in Lake Placid if covid doesn't cancel those in January
    • Apr '21--October '21: Training in Israel on dryland
    • Nov '21--Jan '22: Olympic qualification period
    • Feb '22--Beijing Winter Olympic Games

    How we train:
    In-season: tons of runs down the bobsled track.  3 tracks in North America that will be focused on this year: Whistler, BC; Lake Placid, NY; Park City, UT
    Off-season: Sprinting and lifting, and for myself endless hours of sponsorship proposals and grant applications

    Are points ever used?
    Heck yeah, they're pretty crucial sometimes for flights.  Hotels generally have horrible redemption values close to tracks and we only have so many points, so generally we opt to VRBO local cheap accommodation.

    What is bobsled like?  How is it different than skeleton?


    Skeleton was my Olympic sport back in 2018.  It's best described as a more intense/difficult version of bobsled on your stomach, head-first.  I describe it as more difficult because the steering mechanisms of the sled are so much more complex, and the balance element is tough when you're being knocked around violently.  When there's no pain and you're on an easy run then it feels a bit like chaotic flying.

    Bobsled is in my opinion far more fun, as a pilot.  You can see easily, you use your hands to steer by pulling on 2 rings attached to pulleys (so it acts as a kind of front-wheel-drive car in that respect,) and until you flip over it's less painful than skeleton.  All bets are off once you crash/turn though, which is an incredibly dangerous situation.
    For the boys in the back who push--their job is to essentially push the sled as fast as they can for 5 seconds, hop in the back in the correct order (a very difficult maneuver,) and then take an incredible pounding the rest of the run, which ranges from about 52 seconds to a minute.  That feeling is best described as being shoved into a trash can and kicked over masada.  It's a terribly uncomfortable experience.

    What are the chances of qualifying for Beijing'22?
    Quite high! I expect we'll make it.
    What equipment is used in bobsled:
    Bobsled is a niche sport--pretty much the only "standard" equipment used is a motorcycle helmet.
    The other critical pieces of equipment are the:
    • Sled: these are complex machines made to withstand a beating.  They generally retail for 50-80k Euro depending on the type and competitiveness of the sled.
    • Sprinting spikes: We wear specialized sprinting spikes with needlepoints on the bottom to grip the ice during the sprinting start

    • Suits: paper-thin, lycra suits made for aerodynamic performance
    • runners: these are the tires that hit the road for your sled.  Made of 316L stainless steel and highly regulated, a good/competitive pair will set you back over $15,000.  This means we protect them with our lives if need be, always ensuring that they never get close to touching concrete.

    • a burn vest: this is a small vest under our uniforms that prevent our skin from being peeled away from our bodies or burning off when we flip over and are sliding on ice upside down

    How can one try out for the team?  What athletic qualities are prioritized?
    Easy! There's a very simple chart of elite/average metrics at https://bobteamisrael.com/recruiment/
    The skills of a good pusher in bobsled are
    • A love for Israel--no one gets in my sled if Israel isn't their first and only choice
    • Sprinting speed
    • Explosive strength, generally identifiable with power-cleans, squats, medicine ball tosses and standing broad jumps

    In 60 seconds: how does one build an Olympic-contending bobsled team from scratch? What does a day look like? What are the more difficult aspects?


    It's actually quite complex.  It took about 6 months to put everything into place with the current team and plans change by the week due to Covid-related travel and training availability/restrictions.  The primary areas of consideration are always:

    Finances and budgeting
    Finances are the largest stress/burden.  The team has no funding from Israel and since an intended sponsor for this season was unable to support the team as signed off on, I have resorted to borrowing to pay everything out of pocket so the team can continue to train as we seek support through the season.  The team's budget is about $170,000 on a shoestring.

    Athlete recruitment
    Recruitment of athletes who are competitive is really difficult as one might imagine.  It's pretty difficult to find good athletes not already committed to other sports willing to just get pounded all year, leaving their jobs, family, etc. for 6+ months at a time.  Luckily we have found 4 superb athletes and the path to the Games because of this is far clearer.

    Infrastructure and equipment
    The most time-consuming.  Finding insurance for international athletes doing a niche, extreme sport was incredibly difficult and took about 4 months of being bounced around to different agencies.  Equipment there is an abundance of but is logistically difficult to plan for since even moving a half-ton sled/crate has drastic expense so with covid upending travel planning, equipment planning is difficult as well.  Lodging/airfare/food is done on a relatively ad-hoc basis and also difficult as the Covid situation unfolds.

    How can we stay in touch/follow along?
    This thread will be updated periodically for sure, and there's an easy signup link for the mailing list on the team page (BobTeamIsrael.com)

    Is there a way to support the team? (have to put this one here--it is a tax-deductible CC spend opportunity)

    As mentioned the team did have an agreement to be fully sponsored this year but due to the economic situation that fell entirely through.  As such I have committed to borrowing/taking a loan on the team's budget, since I believe this team has too much potential for good to let it fold. Donations of any kind and sponsorships are the lifeblood of the team and we are a 501c3 (so if you need to hit that CC spend, this is a pretty good way to do so  ;D )
    We do have corporate sponsorship avail. (logos on sleds/uniforms/jackets etc.) and donation opportunities.  If the season gets funded (so half the gofundme.com/israelbobsled mark,) I'll be raffling off my Olympic ring.
    https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/164739

    Where do you train in the offseason?
    Training from May-October of next year will likely be at the Wingate Institute in Netanya.

    What's the most meaningful part of the Olympic journey?
    Lighting channukah candles each year at the Koenigssee bobsled track next to Hitler's home.  Started the tradition in 2015 and it continues each year.  Already have my flight to Munich for December.  It's those kinds of little things that remind you who you represent.

    Does the team have a name?
    Yep! BobTeam Edelman.  Bobsled team's are all named BobTeam XYZ where XYZ is the last name of the pilot.  Alternatively we are sometimes referred to as BobTeam Israel/Yisrael.

    Are there other bobsled teams?
    Indeed there is one other Israeli bobsled team, piloted by a converted parabobsled athlete who found some success in the parabobsled sport.  Unfortunately, in able-bodied bobsled the sprinting start of the run is of the utmost importance and he is unable to perform that role (starting seated in the sled.)  Thus my team's mission is also to support their development if possible to try and get a second sled to the Games, though this would be incredibly difficult.

    shirts/masks/mugs are sold at almost no markup just to get the word out and to provide a fun experience too:
    https://www.bonfire.com/store/bobteam-israel/[/list]
    « Last edited by hgeek23 on October 07, 2020, 04:25:22 PM »

    Author Topic: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread  (Read 1683 times)

    Offline hgeek23

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      • Israel Olympian AJ Edelman / Israel Bobsled BobTeam Edelman
    • Location: A bobsled track going 90mph, or in a plane doing 500.
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    BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « on: October 07, 2020, 01:14:00 PM »
    See above wiki
    « Last Edit: October 07, 2020, 01:55:38 PM by hgeek23 »
    ISR Olympian
    Support the Olympic journey/team (tax-deductible): BobTeamIsrael.com

    Offline MMndl613

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #1 on: October 07, 2020, 03:58:25 PM »
    You are entirely self-funding this team?!  Have you tried the Jewish sports team owners?

    And donations/sponsorships are tax deductible?  Why raffle your ring? Honestly I would think it's the one thing I wouldn't sell. :o

    How many Starwood points would @Dan have to bid to win the ring outright?

    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #2 on: October 08, 2020, 07:32:45 AM »

    Quote
    You are entirely self-funding this team?!  Have you tried the Jewish sports team owners?
    Yes. Israel doesn't fund bobsled, they just don't have the budget for it. And yes as well to the team owners.

    Quote
    And donations/sponsorships are tax deductible?
     
    They are! We're a 501c3.

    Quote
    Why raffle your ring? Honestly I would think it's the one thing I wouldn't sell. :o
    If it can help raise enough interest to get this team get a bit more funding and closer to the goal, why worry about a piece of metal?

    Quote
    How many Starwood points would @Dan have to bid to win the ring outright?
    Haha. I'd think after the World Series @Dan has had enough sports experience to account for a couple of lifetimes that was pretty epic, but I'd be open to the ring landing in Cleveland  ;D
    ISR Olympian
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Captain's Log Oct 21/22
    « Reply #3 on: October 22, 2020, 09:02:08 PM »
    Captain’s Log--Oct. 21-22, 2022--On UA 1013 somewhere en route to LGA

    AJ—BobTeam Edelman Pilot

    New uniforms and more:


    Today was a typical “that’s crazy” day for the team.
    As some know, the bobsled team has started out on a rather difficult footing.  Back in May we secured a commitment from an intended benefactor to cover the entirety of a 6-year long medal-development cycle for Israel bobsled.  However, we were informed a month and a half ago that none of the commitment can be honored.  To save the team I am covering them with savings and borrowing, but it has also meant that logistically decisions have to be made far more “on the fly” as we need to chase ice-time in a bit of a piecemeal fashion.
     
    Nonetheless, as Israelis it’s in our nature to keep pushing forward.  The number one thing that will increase the Olympic qualification chances is actual time on ice.  The only track in North America that stands to be in a position to open is Whistler, BC (Canada) on November 9th, which we planned to take advantage of with back-to-back training camps.  The on-the-fly logistics and daily changes in plans are one of the things that make competing in Olympic sport for Israel both unique, sometimes lonely, and difficult (explained below.)
    The primary source of effort the past 2 months (apart from figuring out how to save the team to begin with) has been visa and border-related, as one might expect during Covid-19.  Our 3 superb Israeli push-athletes have never been to the US before and obtaining a visa in a reasonable timeframe has been difficult, with a 3-month backlog on visa interviews.  Thankfully eventually we were able to expedite the interviews and they should receive their visas shortly.

    The issue of travel, however, is still complicated to other countries.  There is currently a border restriction between the US and Canada (since March,) but there are exceptions granted including for commerce and services critical that can be performed only in Canada (i.e. non-discretionary.)  The issue of whether we are discretionary/non-discretionary would disallow/allow us to enter Canada, and by extension begin the very critical training we need.
    After weeks of back and forth with Canada’s Border Information Service that indicated we shouldn’t have a problem getting an exemption crossing the border (as the coach we'd have at the camp is Canadian and this is our only job with a necessity that it’s performed in Canada,) Chance King Doyle (one of the breakmen) and I flew into Glacier Park International Airport and drove north to the Coutts Border Crossing.  From there we planned to quarantine in Calgary for 2 weeks, meet up with the coach, and drive to Whistler for our training in November. 

    The drive is usually a 3 hour scenic route through mountains and the Blackfoot Nation, but was slowed to about 6 hours as there were blizzard conditions.
    Unfortunately, we were turned away at the border, as the agents did not wish to “open the floodgates” for athletes entering during restrictions.  Completely understandable yet disappointing.
     
    It’s one of the kinds of episodes that makes the journey of representing Israel in Olympic sport somewhat unique and at points exhausting and lonely.  From coordinating visas to attempting to cross the border and present a case for exemption, it’s on Israeli athletes in the sliding sport to manage the process themselves. Logistics are very difficult in sliding sport, and plans almost often change day to day. As a sample timeline:
     
    Last Wednesday:
    --Decision made to attend the camps in Whistler beginning Nov 9. 
    --Expedite the visa interview process with the athletes in Israel.
     
    Thursday-Monday: Call Canada Border Services Agencies and Public Health Services to go over our case
     
    Monday:
    --decide to head to Canada on Wednesday—head to Boston from NYC to collect things.
    --Lay out a 2-week quarantine plan including grocery delivery—the quarantine is absolute, you are not allowed to leave your room nor have interaction with others.
    --Visa interview takes place in Israel—visa will be granted, make plans for arrival in November/December of the athletes.
    --Sponsorship pitch calls
    Tuesday:
    --Pack
    --Covid and antigen tests for the athletes.
    --Book flights and rental cars for Kalispell, MT next day
    Wednesday:
    --Fly into FCA, meet Chance, drive to the border
    --turned away provisionally pending letter from Public Health Authority granting us exemption
    --10p, find lodging near the border
    Thursday:
    --Head to the border at 7a, formally turned away at 10a
    --race back to FCA airport, book flights on the way to MSY (Chance lives in Louisiana,) and LGA (a last ditch effort to head to the Canadian consulate and plead my case for a national exemption letter.)  Without this exemption letter, we will wait for Lake Placid to hopefully open up at some point, though there is no clear date as of yet.
    --2.30—fly out
    --on flight—continue sponsorship pitches
     
    We will remain strong and continue to do everything in our power to see through that Israel has a successful Olympic run.  Until the next log!
    AJ and BobTeam Edelman
    ISR Olympian
    Support the Olympic journey/team (tax-deductible): BobTeamIsrael.com

    Offline MMndl613

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #4 on: October 23, 2020, 04:56:49 PM »
    Would have loved to see you up in Canada.
    Those are some killer looking unis! Would you sell them like NBA jerseys etc?  Would love to get one.

    Offline bestwatchman

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #5 on: October 24, 2020, 11:18:49 PM »
    @hgeek23 I believe it's easier to get into Canada by air. The land borders are stricter

    Offline hgeek23

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    • Location: A bobsled track going 90mph, or in a plane doing 500.
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #6 on: October 25, 2020, 03:29:36 PM »
    @hgeek23 I believe it's easier to get into Canada by air. The land borders are stricter

    Thanks for the suggestion @bestwatchman I really appreciate it.  Unfortunately as we were rejected, trying to get into Canada again under the same circumstances would result in us getting into some trouble, so we are instead headed to Korea tomorrow!
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #7 on: October 25, 2020, 03:32:14 PM »
    Would have loved to see you up in Canada.
    Those are some killer looking unis! Would you sell them like NBA jerseys etc?  Would love to get one.

    Yes we can get you one but they're made out of very specialized mesh/lycra material so they're expensive to produce (about $200 a piece.) for a tax-deductible donation above a certain level we can definitely send one over, feel free to PM.
    ISR Olympian
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    Offline bestwatchman

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #8 on: October 25, 2020, 05:27:43 PM »
    Thanks for the suggestion @bestwatchman I really appreciate it.  Unfortunately as we were rejected, trying to get into Canada again under the same circumstances would result in us getting into some trouble, so we are instead headed to Korea tomorrow!
    wow! Safe and productive trip!!

    Offline hgeek23

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      • Israel Olympian AJ Edelman / Israel Bobsled BobTeam Edelman
    • Location: A bobsled track going 90mph, or in a plane doing 500.
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #9 on: November 05, 2020, 01:13:16 PM »
    Have a great shabbos, from a very draining government quarantine (we're assigned to different locations around Seoul, run by the army) here in Seoul.  Please don't hesitate to send me or the team any messages, we get a lot of chizzuk/strength from knowing people care about what we're trying to do.  Can DM here or send an email to adam.edelman@olympian.org

    « Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 03:30:23 PM by hgeek23 »
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #10 on: November 08, 2020, 07:56:05 AM »
    Thought it would be cool to show what parts of shabbos are like on the road.
    Started a recording before shabbos to get kabbalat shabbat-->Kiddush and kiddush is below.

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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #11 on: November 15, 2020, 10:19:46 AM »
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #12 on: November 17, 2020, 01:03:30 PM »




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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #13 on: November 18, 2020, 11:58:32 AM »
    It's turning into a wild ride
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    Offline lcm

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #14 on: November 18, 2020, 10:28:29 PM »
    It's turning into a wild ride

    Love the positive attitude!