Letter from Elana Meyers USA Bobsled Team

February 17, 2014

Hi everyone!

My Olympics experience was pretty miserable up until the other day. A lot of stuff had been happening behind the scenes and I was getting worn down and beaten up. The final straw happened the other day with the sled mishap into the short wall- I hit my breaking point. However, you guys changed everything- you changed my entire Olympics. You guys made it possible for me to do the one thing that I truly love doing and the one thing that I love doing more than anything in the world- you guys gave me the chance to slide. Being able to have my sled completely rebuilt and being able to take those training runs the other day revived me- and changed everything. I was beyond excited and elated to be able to just go down the track and have everything else melt away- and you all made that happen. I can't even put into words how much that meant to me and how much all the work you guys have done truly meant to me. From the bottom of my heart thank you and thank you for saving my Olympics. I wish there was some way I could repay you all- but there's no way I could ever repay how much you affected me and how much your work for me changed everything. You guys are amazing- and I'm so blessed that you are with our team! Thank you thank you thank you!


Regardless of what happens the next two days, I'm going to give you all everything I have- you all deserve that and so much more.


Thank you!



Elana A Meyers
2010 Olympic Bronze Medalist

2014 Olympic Silver Medalist
USA Bobsled


-Article Written by the Charlotte Observer


By Lukas Johnson - ljohnson@charlotteobserver.com



Concord’s Jim “Cheech” Garde likes to work in a gray area, where pushing the rules and testing the limits often collide with favorable results.

The owner of Cheech’s Creative Concepts in Concord was hired in 2009 by the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project to co-design and build a bobsled for Team USA’s four-man event.

After achieving gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, he was recruited to design and build another sled for the recent winter games in Sochi, Russia.

Bob Cuneo, head engineer for the Connecticut-based Bo-Dyn, recruited his longtime friend to help create the sled. The company also hired BMW to build a sled.

“BMW, this huge corporation, hired an engineering firm and had several big companies involved, but we built our sled right here in a garage on Mexico Road in Concord,” said Garde.

It took Garde six months to design, test and build the $260,000 sled, using multiple companies throughout the region. Garde said the sled’s carbon-fiber body and unique shape worked to the team’s advantage.

Racing bobsleds have slight nuances, but they all must meet strict specifications. Most are roughly 14 feet long and 35 inches wide and weigh about 462 pounds – about 816 pounds with the athletes aboard.

An Olympic run

During the Sochi Olympics, bobsledders Steven Holcomb, Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Army Capt. Chris Fogt powered the Bo-Dyn “Night Train 2” sled off the start in record-breaking time, 4.75 seconds, despite Holcomb’s strained calf.

Holcomb – the first U.S. bobsled driver in more than 60 years to win two medals in the same Winter Olympic Games – and his team went on to finish with the third-fastest time of the first heat (54.89 seconds) to put the team in the running for a medal.

The team later maneuvered the 18-curve track at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour, enduring forces up to five times as much as normal gravity to overtake Germany and claim bronze.

NASCAR roots

Locally, Garde has worked with several NASCAR greats, designing front-end suspensions for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joe Gibbs and Roush Fenway. But building Jeff Gordon’s Jurassic Park-themed “T-Rex” car, which won the Winston Cup at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1997, stands out as a career highlight.

“The Olympics were absolutely amazing, and it would be very hard to compare, but that car changed NASCAR,” said Garde, a Connecticut native who’s lived in Concord with his wife and three kids since 1989.

Garde designed the car with Rex Stump, a lead engineer at Hendrick Motorsports. Several of the car’s innovative modifications went on to become the norm for NASCAR teams.

Garde played an integral role in designing and building the car, putting in more hours than anyone else on the team, said Stump.

“It really comes as no surprise that Cheech has made such a big impact on bobsledding,” said Stump. “There is very little that Cheech has been involved with that didn’t succeed. I suspect his designs will make their mark on bobsledding, just like he has made his mark on NASCAR.”

Stump, who praised Garde’s work ethic and his ability to motivate people, said he became a better engineer after working with Garde.

“It is very hard to pick one thing that makes Cheech so impressive,” said Stump. “He blends creativity and practicality better than anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

A golden effort

Garde observed the Olympic runs from the starting area at the top of the course. Using feedback from Holcomb, he would tweak the sled to gain whatever competitive edge he could.

The Russian team, which won the gold medal, took roughly 250 practice runs down the track, said Garde. All other teams had fewer than half that many.

“Each run lasts less than a minute,” said Garde. “Of that, pilots are only in control of the sled for about 10 seconds. If you’re watching a long turn, you’ll see it wiggles, and it’s a constant battle of losing and finding pressure. The turns can slam the less experienced pilots around, but experienced pilots are very in tune to the tracks.”

The Sochi track was technical, with lower speeds, less pressure and three uphill slants, said Garde. The team had just two runs per day to perfect the line of the sled.

“The beauty of project stems from working with Holcolmb and his 16 years of experience,” said Garde. “The track was quite a bit different than when the team tested the track in the fall before the Olympics, which made it harder for other countries.”

The four-man bobsled race was one of the last events of the Olympics. After the team won bronze, the four men had to rush to the awards ceremony, then to the closing ceremony. On the way, they ran into Garde, hung their medals around his neck and took a quick photo.

The gesture brought Garde to tears.

“He’s been so dedicated and worked so hard, putting everything he has into this project,” said Holcomb, who considers Garde an Olympian in his own right. “His heart was in it just as much as ours was, and it was just great to see him, shake his hand and recognize all his hard work. It was just a fantastic moment.”

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/community/cabarrus/article9102443.html#.UxsmuHeYZpO#storylink=cpy