Childhood dreams came true for Brown track and field alum Evan Weinstock ’14 when he was selected to represent the United States in bobsled and skeleton at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Las Vegas native will travel to Pyeongchang in February to compete as part of one of the three qualifying sleds.
“The Olympics has always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Weinstock said, though he did not necessarily envision himself representing Team USA as a bobsledder.
“It’s a very unique and obscure sport,” Weinstock laughed. “I always admired the Olympics and hoped to experience it for myself one day. I’m so very fortunate to be able to be going, and bobsled just happened to be my ticket in.”
Prior to bobsledding, Weinstock claimed four Ivy League track and field champion titles while at Brown, winning the decathlon in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and the heptathlon at the 2013 Indoor Heptagonal Championships. A senior year team captain, he still holds the school record in the decathlon with 7,393 points and ranks second in school history in the pentathlon with 5,296 points.
In the classroom, Weinstock explored several branches of science before deciding to study biology, with a particular interest in physiology and biotechnology. During his time at Brown, he also fulfilled the pre-med requirements.
“I loved my experience at Brown,” Weinstock said. “It gave me the opportunities to pursue everything I wanted to pursue. … I was extremely competitive in both my athletic and my academic sense, and it was the perfect fit for me.”
Connections through Brown led Weinstock to bobsledding. In Weinstock’s freshman year, Craig Kinsley ’11, a former javelin thrower on the track and field team, was invited to try out for the USA bobsled team. Kinsley eventually threw javelin for Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and is now the assistant coach for throwing for the Bears. He was also the first to recommend bobsled to Weinstock.
“He knew the type of athlete I was,” Weinstock said, citing his well-rounded experience as a decathlete. “Bobsledders are typically very strong but also very fast. … Naturally, bobsled fit into (the) same style” as a decathlon.
Weinstock only began to consider Kinsley’s recommendation seriously a year after graduation. In 2015, Weinstock put his plans to go to medical school on hold and tried out for the national bobsled team, a decision that launched the start of a young but decorated career. Participating in the North American Cup, European Cup and World Cup bobsled competitions, Weinstock has medalled several times since his inaugural 2015-16 season with Team USA. This winter will be Weinstock’s first time competing on the Olympic stage.
Months of dedicated training precede the games. “There’s a lot of things that go into the sport that are not exactly known,” Weinstock said. It’s “the stuff that’s off the ice that really takes the most time.”
When they are in season, bobsledders travel internationally from one competition location to the next, and their equipment goes with them. Most important are the sleds, which, being high-tech and finely engineered, require careful maintenance by the bobsledders to ensure peak performance capability. When arriving at a new location, attending to the sleds is the first and most time-consuming order of business. The bobsledders also create a makeshift gym in a parking garage or similar location for a lifting session. After lifting, the sled teams each get two practice runs down the racing track. “All the while, (we’re) getting our meals in, going to sleep,” Weinstock said. “That’s more or less a general, typical day in the bobsled world.”
In the last couple of weeks leading up to Pyeongchang, the U.S. bobsled team will shift its training focus from physical conditioning to ensuring that the members remain healthy. The bobsledders are “trying to make sure that our bodies are ready to be the best by the time the Olympics come around,” Weinstock said.
“I’m not really sure what to expect when I get” to the Olympics, Weinstock said, though the team will be familiar with its competition as they have raced against them all season.
“The atmosphere of the Olympics is what’s really going to make the whole experience what it is,” Weinstock added. “To see all the nations from all the other sports in the same village as me, and kind of on the same playing field, is really going to be something.”
To Olympic hopefuls and current Brown athletes with professional aspirations, Weinstock advised to “really pursue all sorts of avenues and opportunities that may come up. If it’s something you really want to achieve, attack it with everything you have — don’t hold anything back or take any opportunity for granted, because it could be your ticket to your ultimate goal.”
Weinstock said he is also grateful for the opportunities and the continued support that he receives from Brown. “I’m very excited that people are interested in my story, or interested in bobsledding,” he said. “I hope if they’re curious, they take a look, and hopefully I get a few more fans of the sport and help grow it.”
The Olympic men’s bobsled competitions will take place Feb. 18-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.