It’s summertime and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor is working hard to rehab a partially torn Achilles tendon suffered just before this year’s Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The injury did not stop Meyers Taylor from claiming her third consecutive Olympic medal in the bobsled, but she knows she has to get back to full strength to resume on-ice training.
Meyers Taylor, 33, took up the sport of bobsled in 2007 after being a standout softball player. She began as the brakeman, but after winning bronze in the two-woman bobsled at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver switched to pilot, wanting more control over her destiny.
“The main thing I love the most about bobsled is the actual going down the hill. It is the biggest rush I could ever imagine. When I hit it right and when I’m nailing my corners, it feels like I’m flying,” said Meyers Taylor.
Since becoming a pilot, she has also been instrumental in bringing new talent into the sport. A sense of community has been essential in building women’s bobsledding. Every year, she’s raced with four to six different brakemen, most of who came from track and field.
“The biggest struggle has actually been teaching a team atmosphere to people who have grown up their entire lives in most cases doing an individual sport,” said Meyers Taylor. “It’s a really fun challenge, but it has been a challenge to make sure everybody is doing everything possible for the entire team.”
She continued, “Every time you go out on the line, you want to beat whoever is next to you. At the same time—especially at this phase of my career—it’s about growing the sport and giving more opportunities for women.”
Seeing the big picture, Meyers Taylor is also intently focused on her advocacy work for girls and women in sports. She is the president-elect of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and although her term doesn’t officially begin until January 2019, she is filling in for current WSF president, freestyle skier Grete Eliassen, who recently gave birth to her second child.
“I’ve always had a passion for working to improve the lives and rights of athletes,” said Meyers Taylor, who is looking forward to the WSF Salute to Women in Sports Oct. 17. “Women have always been under-supported and under-served in sports. Fortunately, I came along after Title IX and was able to reap the benefits of that and go to school with a softball scholarship, but that’s still not an opportunity that a lot of girls have.”
She added, “They don’t have the resources to get to that next level. It starts at the grassroots and having the coaching and structure at the grassroots to allow children to have that participation. I’m passionate about that.”