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AthleteI’m Aja Evans and I push a sled on ice very fast… How can something so hot be so cold? AMA!

Jul 26th 2017 by AjaLEvans • 34 Questions • 579 Points

I’m a bobsledder for Team USA (yes, like “Cool Runnings”) and my name is pronounced “Asia” like the continent (and 9 times out of 10 if you’re a Steely Dan fan then you already knew that). I’m from the Southside of Chicago and in my spare time I enjoy documentaries on Bigfoot, aliens, and #SharkWeek in July. I come from a super athletic family; from my brother who played 8 years in the NFL to my uncle Gary Matthews who goes by “Sarge” in the MLB. I‘m currently in Calgary, Canada gearing up for Team Selections for the upcoming Olympic Year. I won a shiny Bronze Medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and I’m trying to upgrade that to GOLD in 2018 in Pyeongchang. AMA!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/lbnxizwgkkbz.jpg

Q:

How do you feel about Michael Phelps not racing a real shark?

A:

I was a little let down... I thought I was going to witness a live "Jaws" scene lol


Q:

Real question is can you beat a shark in a sledding race?

A:

haha that's a legit question, I definitely think we could give a good run for its money! Depending on the track we can reach speeds at over 90 mph!


Q:

Hey Aja! Thanks for doing this AMA. Were you close with Steve? How is everyone at Bobsled doing? Sending the whole team condolences.

A:

Thank you for that <3 We were all one big family, and will forever be #TeamHolcomb .... Everyone is doing well, we are currently in Calgary, Canada preparing for Push Championships! :)


Q:

You mean Calgary, Alberta

A:

My bad


Q:

Is Cool Runnings your favorite documentary?

A:

It's definitely in my top 10... lol and that was before i did the sport!


Q:

what do the people in the back of the sled do after they get in?

A:

pray! haha


Q:

Can your uncle really cook as well as he says he can?

A:

Yes! The best I know! I'm still trying to get my hands on his banana pancake recipe


Q:

How much support do you get participating in a sport that mostly only gets attention once every four years (for Americans anyways)? I think you are a phenomenal athlete and genuinely don't mean to take anything away from your accomplishments. I know ya'll work year-round and just because it's not the Winter Olympics, doesn't mean there aren't international tournaments/championships going on. I just genuinely wonder about what type of support our athletes get in some of the more 'unique' events/sports.

A:

This is a great question! It can be tough because as you said, most Olympic sports are only popular every four years... I get a lot of support though from friends, family, and people all across the world. They connect with me on more than just an Olympic level... I feel like my story and where I'm from speaks volumes and people relate to that grind and accomplishing your goals and wildest dreams, rather than just the "Olympics"


Q:

Awesome, thanks for the reply! Wishing you and others all the best!

A:

Thank you!


Q:

Do you practice the track in the bath like in Cool Runnings?

A:

Haha no


Q:

do you have a favorite bobsled track?

A:

Yes, I have two favorites.... my favorite home track is Lake Placid, NY even though it's arguably one of the roughest in the world... I've done some pretty serious damage there, and it's always fun to race in front of the home crowd!

My favorite European track is in St. Moritz, Switzerland... It's gorgeous and the only "natural track" on tour. All the other track on tour have a refrigeration system that keeps the ice together. In St. Mortiz, they literally build the track up every year, and we usually race there when it's reallyyyyyy cold outside.


Q:

What's your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Favorite restaurant? Way to rep the city!

A:

I loveeeee food! So dining out is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Chicago! Some of my favorite resurtants are Jellyfish, Sunda, RPM Steak, and Ja' Grill


Q:

Why bobsled over skeleton or luge?

A:

Yeah no way I would do skele or luge, haha I'm not that adventurous... I think bobsled allows for me to use my skills and assets the best.


Q:

Hi Aja, what is your favorite... Food, Movie and Song?

A:

fave food is hmmm.... everything haha. If I had to choose I would say tacos! Fave movie is probably "Bad Boys 2" lol, and my favorite song is "Never Give Up" by Yolanda Adams


Q:

How often do people make Cool Runnings jokes and how do you respond to them? Also if you had to put together a Bobsled team consisting only of fictional monsters and characters what would your team be ?

A:

I get "Cool Runnings" jokes 9/10 times people ask me question about what I do haha.. But it's all fun, I think it's cool that they even know that much about the sport. And if I had to put together a bobsled team with only fictional characters and monsters I would have Batman as the driver and Bigfoot on brakes... think about it... they still have caught big foot yet lol


Q:

How does one train for bob during the summertime? Will y'all be running the COP bob tracks with the bobs that they have open to public or do you bring your own summer training bob? As someone who has never mustered the courage to do it even though its five minutes away from home, how does it feel the first time going down?

A:

We come to cities like Calgary, that have an ice house so we can practice pushing the sled on ice during the summer. We also train a lot in Lake Placid, NY at the Olympic Training Center. And there we have a push track, which is basically a dry land version of our start.

My first time down the track is still so hard to explain haha. My eyes were as big as my head (and I got a big ol head) and I was so confused. Lol I didn't understand why anyone would want to do that sport. After my first trip down the track I went and called my mom and asked if I could come home lol and she told me "You better go back to the top of that hill and go again" I rolled my eyes and did it, then my third day ever on the ice my teammate and I set the start record and won team trials. So I was like... I guess I like start records and winning so I'll stick around ;)


Q:

Who's your favorite Aunt?

A:

hahahahahaha I plead the fifth


Q:

who would win in a fair fight Michael Phelps or Bigfoot?

A:

Most people in the sport started after their collegiate careers. So the age range is typically early 20s to mid/late 30s depending on your position. Drivers typically tend to have more longevity in the sport.


Q:

Speaking of Steely Dan. What's your favorite Steely Dan song?

A:

It would have to be "Aja" haha no one sings my name better :)


Q:

How did it feel to come back last year from major knee surgery and win. World championship?

A:

Dealing with my ACL surgery and recovery was the hardest thing I've done in my athletic career. That process plays a lot of mind games on you and makes you realize how bad you really want it (or don't)... Coming back after ACL surgery (and a 2 year hiatus) was intimdating at first. But, once I got back going and in that environment, I quickly got back to my old self. The thing that excited me the most was how well I performed given all the circumstances. Let just say I'm pretty excited to pursue this Olympic year now that I've gotten some more time and experience under my belt!


Q:

mayweather or mcgregor?

A:

Money May


Q:

Coolest thing about Olympic village?

A:

Chilling with Olympians from all over the WORLD! Literally the best of the best, just hanging out and getting to know each other. Such a fun experience!


Q:

you sound supercool and you're super cute. how do you keep a balance between the rigorous training you have to maintain your skills, and a dating/personal life?

i can imagine you have plenty of guys/girls fawning over you, but how many of them are willing to commit to a relationship with a pro athlete that has a crazy intense practice regimen/schedule/gone for long periods of time?

edit: if you're already married, just translate the question to how your SO/kids/etc deals with your schedule?

A:

Haha I'm not married.. and it can be a tough balance. During the season we're gone for months at a time and in the off season we balance training and we'll as even full time jobs. So sometimes our schedules don't leave much room for the dating/personal life but so many people make it work! So many of my teammates are happily married (with children) and don't skip a beat! I'm single so it makes it a little easier for me, but I'm also dating and open to building a relationship. Our schedule and what we do can be a bit intense but there are people that love, support, and understands the demands of our sport and what it takes to accomplish our dreams.


Q:

that's very good to hear. it's always good to know that our athletes have a working balance going in their pro/private lives. good luck on both fronts, i'll be rooting for you!!

A:

Thank you very much!


Q:

What was it like shooting the body issue? Liberating?

A:

Definitely! That shoot was so much fun! And one of my most comfortable shoots


Q:

I really like your shirt/dress where's it from?

A:

Haha thanks, I bought it at asos.com


Q:

Wait, there's also an actress named Aja Evans? Or are you also an actress?

A:

Yeah there's an actress with the same name


Q:

You did a photo shoot for the ESPN: The Body issue a few years back. How was that? What's colder, the track or that set?

A:

That shoot was so much fun!!! I was so nervous at first but the photographers and crew were so accommodating and made me feel really comfortable. We shot it at a private airplane hanger in Connecticut, it was super cool!


Q:

Hey Aja, welcome back to Calgary! Did you get to go to stampede? #yahoo

A:

Unfortunately I miss it :( I got in literally the day after it ended!


Q:

Sorry you missed it! Plenty to enjoy in Calgary year round though. Good luck!

A:

Thank you!


Q:

How can I sign up to be the 2nd or 3rd man in the 4 man bobsled team? #lifeGoals "I want to be an Olympic Passenger" - Mitch Hedberg

Do the 2nd and 3rd people actually do anything after the initial push or are the literally just along for the ride?

A:

Lol they actually do passenger rides at both of the US tracks. So they'll take you down the track in a 4man sled in Lake Placid, NY or Park City, UT. You should try it!

And every position matters. In 4man, they have to stay relaxed and as aerodynamic as possible so they have to maintain a certain posture and stay in unison with the movements of the sled.


Q:

Does your milkshake bring all the boys to the yard?

Proof positive that it does. http://i.imgur.com/ZWvStNb.jpg

In all seriousness, what is your typical workout routine? How much do you squat/deadlift?

A:

hahaha... My typical workouts include lots of squats and deadlifts, as well as plyos, and speed training. I love box jumps! And my max single rep squat is prob 405, and my max single rep deadlift is around 357lbs


Q:

who do you think posts the best memes on Instagram?

A:

me, duh


Q:

Why don't bobsleighs have wheels? Wouldn't they go much faster if they did?

A:

We race on ice, I think the runners (blades) allow for more control on the ice