Going to the gym is something Nicole Vogt never gets tired of.
“This is the first Olympics where I’ve been like, ‘I’m an Olympic hopeful, this is—I have a shot at this,’ and so it’s been really exciting this summer getting ready,” Vogt said.
“I’ve wanted to be in the Olympics in some sport since I was a little kid, but I was never, like, the best at anything,” Vogt said.
She grew up competing in basketball, volleyball and track.
“And then I was recruited by Kansas State University to be on the women’s rowing team. [I] never did rowing before, so I learned a whole new sport in college,” Vogt said.
Then, while watching the 2010 Olympics as a college senior, the bobsledding announcers caught her attention.
“And they were talking about how a lot of college athletes come into the U.S. program later in life and I was like, ‘this is perfect! I want to keep playing sports!’”
To prove her athletic potential, she sent in a sports resume and basically recruited herself to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation with no prior experience.
“I got invited to a tryout and failed miserably because rowers do not run, like, we just don’t need to,” Vogt said.
But she didn’t give up and she trained even harder. A year later, Nicole made the U.S. team as a brakeman.
She pushes a sled on ice to get it started, jumps into the back and then slams on the brakes to stop it.
“It’s a 400 pound sled that we have to move from, like, a static 400 pound object on ice really quickly and usually from the time that we start pushing to the time that we get in isn’t more than about six seconds,” Vogt said.
Her position now is a bobsled pilot. After the push start, she sits up front and directs the sled down the course at approximately 90 miles per hour.
“And this will be my sixth season driving sleds down mountains. It’s pretty crazy!” Vogt said.
Vogt said bobsled athletes don’t get a lot of time in the sled to practice. Ice is only available from October to March and during that time their bodies can only handle three runs a day. A run is only one minute long.
She said what’s helped her become a better pilot is her education, training and day-job as an engineer.
“Curve theory, and where the pressures are, and we can get going up to 90-92 miles an hour sometimes, so you learn how to process things really quickly and slow them down in your brain,” Vogt said.
Vogt works at AOS Engineering in Plano. When she asked them if she could work part-time in the winter in order to travel and train they said, “yes,” and then some.
“They were like, ‘maybe we should bring like chickens in here and chase them like Rocky! So we need to like—we’ll go watch "Cool Runnings" together and figure out how to help you train.’ They were all on board and so it’s been really fun, they’re very supportive,” Vogt said.
Vogt is combining her natural talents with years of sweat equity in an effort to finally reach her Olympic goal.
“I imagine it all the time. It’s my motivation,” Vogt said. “I can close my eyes and see myself walking in opening ceremonies.”
But she knows it would be even better in person. She just has to get there.