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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 5646 times)

    Offline hgeek23

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      • Israel Olympian AJ Edelman / Israel Bobsled BobTeam Edelman
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #45 on: December 02, 2020, 08:10:32 AM »
    Video of the crash. Will break it down further later


    Crashes are very common in bob, I heard that one of the teams training in Germany right now has just crashed 5x straight, so it's nothing to lose sleep over. Eager to get back to it. Thought I'd explain it a bit so people understand why a crash occurs.

    The crash is an easy one to diagnose. I hit before the entry of the corner which sent me into it and angled up high. The corner has two distinct oscillations. Which now had exaggerated peaks and shortened widths. I compounded the issue by driving the sled very low on the downward portion.

    At the end of the two oscillations there was still more corner because I had shortened the horizontal distance traveled so much. Centrifugal force pulled me back up as the corner ended and there was nothing for the sled to do but flip over.

    Crashes are common in Bobsled and no reason to harp on this one, only noteworthy because of the realization that my sliding senses had dulled a bit. I made a mistake, a very common one in bob, but one I felt that the me from 19 months ago would never have made, and it came at a very high risk.  We'll be back though, that's what Israel does, and this will happen again. Perhaps a dozen or dozens of times.




    Back to training on Friday, can't wait!
    « Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 09:09:43 AM by hgeek23 »
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    Offline lcm

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #46 on: December 02, 2020, 10:02:25 AM »
    70$ a run. Very expensive.

    First crash. Not a good day




    Ouch!
    Your outlook is awesome!
    So true, you won't succeed if you aren't willing to fail. And bouncing right back like you do is inspiring!

    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #47 on: December 02, 2020, 10:44:53 AM »
    Ouch!
    Your outlook is awesome!
    So true, you won't succeed if you aren't willing to fail. And bouncing right back like you do is inspiring!

    We all have our things we can take, I'm very blessed hashem gave me this as an outlet and for keeping me safe on this one given it was a really bad hit. I view sport as very similar to most other endeavours that everyone experiences. Crashing the Bob is a setback but so is failing a test, etc. B"h I have the country and people to help push things forward. Right now the left shoulder is pretty useless and hard to deal with but that reminds me that I'm lucky to have a shoulder that functions at all.

    Honestly, I'm so impressed with the breakman in the back, YongJin. It was his first day as we wait for the Israeli boys to get their visas and then quarantine and he took it like a champ. When driving someone in the back and you crash all you can think about is whether they're alright. My head was taking a beating as we crashed our way down to the bottom (there's no way to retract your head into the sled, it just gets brutally beaten as you slide on it,) but that meant his potentially was in a worse position, but thankfully he says he's okay. I don't know how he can get back in so nonchalantly on Friday. He deserves the most credit of anyone.
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #48 on: December 06, 2020, 06:24:58 PM »
    In need of help:

    Every year a member of the team lights Chanukah candles in Koenigsee at the Bobsled track next to Hitler's home. This year it is impossible for us. I'm looking to organize someone to go light there on our behalf. Does anyone know someone in Bavaria or Salzburg who might volunteer to help with this?
    @Dan any friends there?
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    Offline lcm

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #49 on: December 06, 2020, 08:15:51 PM »
    In need of help:

    Every year a member of the team lights Chanukah candles in Koenigsee at the Bobsled track next to Hitler's home. This year it is impossible for us. I'm looking to organize someone to go light there on our behalf. Does anyone know someone in Bavaria or Salzburg who might volunteer to help with this?
    @Dan any friends there?
    Reached out to Chabad in Salzburg?
    https://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/aid/117783/jewish/Chabad-Lubavitch-House-Salzburg.htm

    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #50 on: December 06, 2020, 08:27:23 PM »
    Reached out to Chabad in Salzburg?
    https://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/aid/117783/jewish/Chabad-Lubavitch-House-Salzburg.htm
    I'm ashamed I didn't even know there was a chabad in Salzburg! Would have made shabbos so much easier when I trained in Koenigsee
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #51 on: December 06, 2020, 08:40:21 PM »
    I'm ashamed I didn't even know there was a chabad in Salzburg! Would have made shabbos so much easier when I trained in Koenigsee
    Well, know that there is a chabad in Seoul

    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #52 on: December 06, 2020, 09:17:18 PM »
    Well, know that there is a chabad in Seoul

    Indeed ☺️
    That I do know but can't really travel for fear of the 'rona shutting down the track if anyone suspects exposure.
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #53 on: December 08, 2020, 11:11:13 AM »
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    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #54 on: December 10, 2020, 07:37:00 AM »
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #55 on: December 10, 2020, 08:29:03 AM »
    @hgeek23 keep it going, the DDFF is rooting for you. Love your updates.

    Offline hgeek23

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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #56 on: December 10, 2020, 05:20:04 PM »
    @hgeek23 keep it going, the DDFF is rooting for you. Love your updates.

    Much appreciated. I'm only truly sad the koenigsee lighting tradition will be broken this year. It is something I'm so proud of.
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    Re: BobTeam Edelman / 2022 Olympics thread
    « Reply #58 on: December 15, 2020, 10:41:12 PM »
    @hgeek23 keep it going, the DDFF is rooting for you. Love your updates.

    +1

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