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Steven Mesler: Olympic Bobsledder

Get to know a Buffalonian...


On February 12, Buffalo native and resident Steven Mesler will join hundreds of his fellow American winter athletes at the opening ceremony of the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The former City Honors and University of Florida decathalete made the unconventional switch to bobsled 10 years ago, and since then the push athlete has gone to two Olympics and become a key member of the United States’ top-ranked four-man team. Mesler and his teammates will go for a gold medal in one of the winter’s premiere events—and one in which the United States hasn’t

How does a track and field athlete make the transition to the bobsled?

It’s actually a pretty easy transition believe it or not. Bobsledding is about speed and strength at it’s core, which is always what you’re looking to be as a track athlete — stronger and faster. In bobsled the key difference is you can put on much more weight because you’re only talking about sprinting and pushing for about 40-50m at most. Outside of that the actual push and load into the sled is a technique that can be learned and just like any skill some people pick it up quicker than others... I was on the lucky side of being a quick learner!

Take us through a typical day of training leading up to the Olympics.

As I sit and respond to these questions [Jan. 27] from our U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., right outside of San Diego, our days are pretty full. We’ve got just over two weeks until opening ceremonies so there’s not much more improvement that can be done. Physical training is about fine tuning and staying healthy. Training sessions will last from 1-3 hours at this time of year which will be combined with massage, acupuncture or chiropractic later in the day. A good hour of the day will be spent fulfilling media requests as this is the last time where there will be time in the day to really fill people in on what’s going on.

After the initial push, are there things you can do to effect the performance of the sled or are you just along for the ride?

There are things that the push athletes can do to assist the driver as we head down the course...knowing the track and it’s timing is a must for a good crew. The ability to flow with the track and the sled is crucial in not disturbing it too greatly as we enter and exit turns.

Which teams are your biggest competition for the gold? How fierce are the rivalries between nations?

The Germans are always our biggest competition, followed closely by the Russians, Swiss, Latvians and Canadians. These days the entire hill gets along very well. As badly as we want to win there are no hard feelings between countries anymore and it makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Speaking German I have been able to befriend many athletes from plenty of countries and it’s been a blast doing so!

As the current 4-man World Champions and leading team on the 09-10 circuit, how much feel pressure do you feel to bring home a gold the US hasn’t won since 1948?

Not anymore pressure than I have in the past. I have always been a lot of pressure on myself to perform and to me there is no greater stress than that that comes from within, so there’s not much that can happen externally that will bother me...

Are the top bobsled athletes treated like rock stars in Austria, Germany and other Alpine countries?

Maybe more like the opening band at a big show. We’re no Coldplay but we get a lot of respect and are much better known by the sporting fans across the pond!

This will be your third Olympic trip. We’ve heard that the Olympic Village is one hell of a party scene, got any good stories from Salt Lake or Turin?

The party that was thrown after the Turin Closing Ceremonies was one of the sickest things I’ve ever been at. They usually don’t allow alcohol in the village but the organizers decided they would put together a massive rave style jam when all the athletes got back right after Closing. Picture thousands of Olympians at an open bar after the biggest moments of their lives, then multiply that thought times 10 and you get the party that was thrown!

Is it bobsled or bobsleigh? Artvoice kinda likes the Euro version.

If you like the Euro version than I’d go with Bob-fahren since German dominates the Bobsled landscape ver there! It’s bobsleigh everywhere else in the world, including our friendly Labatt drinking neighbors to the north, and bobsled in America. Why? I’ve got no idea!

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