Yep, two-person teams will bring the sport to the Winter Games as an exhibition event for the first time in Pyeongchang, as officials determine whether to include it in future editions. The first snow volleyball European championships are scheduled for March in Austria.
Nigeria’s bobsled team is composed of former NCAA track athletes, who will mark the African nation’s first appearance in the Winter Games. Other nations making their debut: Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia and Singapore.
Let the games begin
Opening ceremonies took place Thursday night. NBC will broadcast events on four networks and its NBC Sports App. Find complete listings at nbcolympics.com/tv-listings.
Evan Weinstock was raised in warm-weather Las Vegas. He remembers seeing snow, but only after driving 45 minutes to Mount Charleston. “We’d spend about three hours there, sled around and go back down the mountain,” he says.
Little did Weinstock know his future would include sled rides in the Winter Olympics. He’ll be part of the U.S. bobsled team this month in South Korea, where despite being relatively new to the sport, he’ll be among 12 American participants for the two-man and four-man events.
The 26-year-old, who excelled at Del Sol High School in football and captured four Ivy League track titles at Brown University (three in the decathlon, one in the heptathlon), began bobsledding three years ago. He attended a tryout camp in Northern California and was pegged for the national team’s developmental program.
The quickness he developed in track and the strength from football translated well, and Weinstock quickly earned a spot as one of the bobsledding team’s top pushers. The ideal pusher is lean, powerful and fast — just like the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Las Vegan. He’s believed to be Southern Nevada’s first Winter Olympian.
“When he puts his mind to something, he does it,” says Preston Goroff, his former football coach at Del Sol.
Weinstock always envisioned himself as an Olympian — just not part of the Winter Games, which begin today (the bobsled events are scheduled for Feb. 18-25). He originally hoped to reach the Olympic Trials as a decathlete.
While training at Stanford in 2015, he came across the bobsledding combine and gave the winter sport a try. “I held my own. There’s a crossover between track and field and the bobsled team,” he says. “Next thing you know, they are teaching me how to push a sled, and I’m training with the team.”
Slowly but surely, he became familiar with the sport. Some days, it wasn’t easy. The sled in one race toppled over on the third turn of a 20-turn course. Weinstock and his teammates slid down the rest of the way going about 85 mph on their heads.
“Sometimes you tip over,” he says. “It’s not a pleasant part of the sport, but it happens. It’s a violent and rough event. It only lasts one minute, but after, you feel like you just finished a full-length football game.”
Weinstock has traveled the globe with the national team for events, including competing on the Olympic course in Pyeongchang last March during the World Cup. The two-man team finished sixth; the four-man team placed 15th. He has also been to Austria, Canada, Germany and Switzerland. “This is something everyone dreams of,” he says.
Most of Weinstock’s life has revolved around preparing for an athletic event, be it a football game at Del Sol (where he made it to the state championship game) or a track meet at Brown (where he established the school record in the decathlon). Those experiences helped prepare him for Korea—physically and mentally.
“I’m sure everyone will find it hard to maintain their emotions [at the Olympics],” he says. “But it really hasn’t happened to me before. The competition itself doesn’t change. It’s all about keeping balance.”
That’s something Weinstock has been able to accomplish since his days at Del Sol. “Evan is determined, has a great work ethic and he’s really smart,” Goroff says. “Couple those things together, and the kid is going to be good at whatever he tries — even if it was curling.”