While the Winter Olympics take place every four years, it's not as typical to come across athletes at the Winter Olympiad with ties to Li'l Rhody. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, however, the Ocean State stakes claim to at least four Olympians. WBOB was able to catch up with one such athlete, Lauren Gibbs, of the USA Olympic Bobsledding team, who is also an alumna of Brown University.
Recently, Gibbs appeared on an episode of WBOB's Psycho Sports ahead of her departure to South Korea.
Check out the full interview below.
A conversation with Olympic Bobsledder, Lauren Gibbs
Tyler Salk: Lauren thanks for joining me today.
Lauren Gibbs: Thanks for having me.
TS: No problem. So, you grew up in Southern California, and went to school here in Rhode Island at Brown. How exactly did you get into bobsledding?
LG: Actually, I found out about the sport from a good friend of mine, who played rugby with actually my current pilot, Elena Meyers Taylor. My friend, Jill Potter, was a 2016 rugby Olympian, and I was working out in a gym in Denver, Colorado at the time. She said “I think you have the makings to be a good bobsledder.” Of course, I thought she was crazy, but they were holding open tryouts down in the Springs. I had never been to an Olympic training center and I thought “why not? I’ll give it a try.” Four years later, I’m going to the Olympics!
TS: You said that you got into it a little bit later in your life. If somebody had told you that you would be an Olympic bobsledder, even just five years ago, what would your reaction have been to them?
LG: I would have laughed.
TS: Lauren, in the past when talking about those abilities, you said that you were “god awful.” When did you realize that you had the talent to make it on this Olympic team?
LG: Probably about two weeks ago when they told me I was on the Olymp--- no, I would say two years into the sport you kind of become more comfortable with the idea of hurling yourself down an ice track inside of a carbon-fiber bathtub and then jumping in, giving someone else control of your life and going down that mile of ice at 95 MPH. But, it probably wasn’t until last season where things started to progress a little bit faster. I started working on my sprinting technique and my loading technique and things started to click. I’d say that probably two years ago that this could potentially be something that… I could compete in the Olympics. And you know, I got not lucky, but fortunately, I was named to the team two weeks ago.
TS: You said “hurling down at 95 MPH,” what’s the fastest that you’ve gone down that track… speed wise?
LG: Every track is a little bit different. You can go anywhere from 75 MPH to 95 MPH. Whistler is the fastest track in the world currently, and on that one we’ve probably gone about 94. 95 miles per hour.
TS: Of course, these are your very first Olympic games. You have, however, competed in the bobsledding World Cup. How do you usually prepare for any bobsledding event? How are you preparing differently for these Olympics in PyeongChang?
LG: How we prepare… so we get about six practice runs. Usually the person racing, the raceman, usually takes two to four of those runs. I have a normal training week as well. I usually do 2-3 days of sprinting and 2-3 days of lifting. We’ve been lucky enough to have the day before the race off to stand runners and prepare the sled. Then you usually get a lot of sleep. As much sleep as you can, because you’re going towards a big race. Proper nutrition is important as well. Hydration is key. Honestly for the Olympics, I think the most important thing will be to treat it just like any other race. You know, I’ve been doing this for four years, and there’s no reason to do something drastically different just because this is the Olympics. We’re competing against the same people we’ve been competing against for four years. Now it’s just time to put it all together, and hopefully take home the gold.
TS: A lot of our listeners here on 990WBOB.com live in Rhode Island. What were some of your biggest outtakes from your four years here to help you get to where you are?
LG: I really loved Brown. I think part of it was just having such a supportive community. I had friends from all over the world. All over the United States. Professors that were invested in my education. A volleyball coach in Diane Short that was invested in me being the best athlete that I could be at the time. You just get a lot of support at Brown. With an open curriculum, it really gives you a future and a life that you want for yourself. That’s been really crucial, because at thirty years old, you don’t think that you’re going to start an Olympic sport. That ability to think outside the box and to be flexible and to take things as they come I think are really… I would attribute that to my time at Brown.
TS: Lauren, one final question. What are your expectations for the upcoming games?
LG: To win a gold medal.
TS: Well you heard that right here on 990WBOB.com that former Brown Bear Lauren Gibbs is expecting to win a gold medal. Lauren, thank you so much for joining me, and I hope we can have you on again after the Olympics are over.
LG: Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
For the audio version of this episode, as well as an interview about the now RANKED URI Rams and (unranked) PC Friars with WPRI Sports Director Yianni Kourakis, CLICK HERE
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