MLI's Katelyn Kelly juggles Bistro and bobsledding
Katelyn Kelly, a server in Mirror Lake Inn’s Taste Bistro, has three things in life she wants to achieve: be a doctor, own a horse and go to the Olympics.
The Orchard Park, N.Y. native has a start on the former after receiving her degree in biology and English Literature from the University of Miami (Ohio) where she also competed in track and field. But the life of Doctor Kelly is on hold at the moment.
As far as a horse goes, Kelly is a rider, but ownership is in the distant future. “I used to work at the stables during the summer so that I could ride. Ever since I was very young I've always loved horses and wanted a horse.”
Now she’s working on her final goal and is using the sport of bobsledding to finish her personal trifecta. The school’s athletic department received a recruiting letter from 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Elana Meyers seeking track and field candidates that might want to try the champagne of thrills.
“So after contacting Elana and Jazmine (Fenlator) I came to Lake Placid in March of 2010,” said Kelly. “I left Buffalo at 5 in the morning and got to Lake Placid around noon and went right to the track.”
What followed can only be compared to the novice skier who learns the sport from the top of the mountain.
“There was no intro,” Kelly continued. “Jazmine was the pilot for my first run. I didn’t like it. I screamed all the way down. I took two more runs and didn’t scream, but I got nauseous on the drive into Lake Placid. I knew what to expect (on the track), but it wasn’t pleasant. I couldn’t breathe.”
Kelly got over the “initiation” and attended the team’s combine in the summer of 2010. She got through the physical nature of that testing and was named to the national team as a brakeman for the 2010-2011 season.
It didn’t take Kelly long to realize, though, that the real reward in bobsledding comes from the driver’s seat. She was taking the recommended path, one similar to Meyers who won her Olympic medal pushing for Erin Pac. Meyers recently captured a 2013 World Championship silver medal as a pilot.
Olympic medalists on the men’s team, namely Steve Holcomb, Brian Shimer and Todd Hays, have gone about it similarly, working their way from the back of the sled to the front.
Kelly’s next move was to attend a driving school in Lake Placid in the spring of 2011. Now from the pilot’s position, Kelly is eyeing the Winter Olympics in 2014 or 2018. The U.S. team has a quota of three sleds for the Games next February in Sochi, Russia.
“The 2018 Olympics are more likely for me, but I won’t count myself out of 2014 until someone decides that,” she stated. In the meantime, there is the process of climbing the national team ladder.
To that end, she concluded the 2012-2013 campaign with gold, silver and bronze medals in North American Cup racing, a developmental circuit several steps below the pinnacle of the World Cup.
“Next year I plan to learn the European tracks,” Kelly said. That’s no small achievement, given the fact that she is funding herself. After a season of traveling, room and board, and sled transportation, a teammate just received a bill for $20,000.
“I worked a lot last summer. People have donated.” She’ll need more of the same, as her national federation, typical of smaller winter sports, is not flush with cash. But Kelly is more than willing to take on the added sacrifices.
Luckily she lives at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid “about 90 percent of the time.” Room and board is provided when she’s there, along with physical training facilities, sports science and sports medicine. Her training regimen, depending on the day, consists of any combination of lifting, sprinting, training runs at the Mount Van Hoevenberg track, sled work and film review.
In the midst of all this, she logs a few nights each week at Taste Bistro during the competitive season, but hopes to spend the spring and summer in the bistro as well as the Four Diamond rated The View Restaurant.
“The Mirror Lake Inn gives me my own niche,” she reflected. “I can get away, unplug and then plug in.”
The Kelly story continues Mirror Lake Inn’s Olympic legacy which dates back to the 1932 Winter Games, when several participating teams were housed in the hotel. In addition, Kaileigh Moore, from the front desk, aspires to compete in skeleton.
And, of course, there’s the inn’s own Andrew Weibrecht, son of owners Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, who won a 2010 Olympic bronze medal in alpine skiing.
You can follow Katelyn Kelly’s bobsled career by logging on to www.kkbobsleigh.tumblr.com
Twitter: /katelyn__kelly (double underscore)