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Monday, 30 December 2013 13:54

The Stories Behind the Story

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After gathering up questions from social media outlets, we sat down with him to get answers about bobsled and his latest book, “Fire on Ice: Gospel Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Sport”

“Where did the ideas for your book come from?”
The basic concept came back in 1998 when I had some powerful spiritual experiences on the ice. Over the years, and during my mission, I started to write down what I had learned about Gospel principles through bobsled. It was a scribble here, a thought there, but eventually I had a long list of topics and relating stories or experiences that I began to flesh out in book format during 2005-2006. The book sat for years until I felt a very strong impression and desire to get it published, so in 2012 I began to rework the manuscript until I felt satisfied and then submitted it to Cedar Fort, Inc. in 2013.

“Why did you write your book?”
I’ve always liked writing. I remember taking a creative writing class way back in like 1991 and the instructors were really impressed with my work. I have had several published writers throughout the years compliment my natural writing abilities and tell me I should pursue it. I used to write these short stories and put my friends in as different characters which they got a kick out of. But it wasn’t until I got back from my mission that I really began to toy around with the idea of becoming a “writer.” The more the ideas came for “Fire on Ice” the more serious I took the possibility that I could do this. I just felt like this book needed to be written. It needed to be written to help share more about my sport, to help others strengthen their testimonies, to help those who may be struggling not feel alone and most of all I felt like it needed to be written to help my fellow singles/midsingles find hope on the path.

“How did your journey to bobsledding begin?”
Salt Lake City was officially awarded the 2002 Olympic Winter Games on June 16, 1995, so to prepare for the Games Utah quickly began constructing the bobsled track in Park City. Our sport’s national governing body, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, sent a coach to Utah to begin building bobsled and skeleton programs here. One thing led to another and my dad’s company got involved as a sponsor for the upcoming 1998 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team. Through the sponsorship Dad was offered a free four-man bobsled ride and he invited me to go with him. I took that first ride on January 25, 1997 and haven’t looked back since.

“How would you describe a bobsled ride?”
Basically if you take your favorite roller coaster and mash it with an F-22 Raptor flight, plus throw in what the astronauts feel on take-off, that is a bobsled ride. It is a thrilling, beautiful, eye-opening experience. It’s hard to describe the rush from the acceleration itself, but as a sled pilot there is nothing like guiding a sled down the track at full speed, feeling the turns whip you around as you transition smoothly from one point to the next.

“Do you have a nickname for your bobsled?”
Actually we do, our current sled is nicknamed The Phoenix after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes. We chose this name because as a team we are committed to spreading hope and showing others that you can always rise from the ashes of failure and defeat.

“What keeps you coming back for more?”
I think it’s a combination of factors. I can’t deny that the adrenaline rush of the sport definitely helps, but underneath it all I think I keep coming back because of the team camaraderie, the mental and physical challenges of the sport, and the uniqueness of the sport. I've always felt that bobsled was a big part of my life’s mission and honestly the sport is like an old friend who has helped me through some of the toughest periods in my life. Although I “retired” in 2010, I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away. Hence, I’m back on the ice in 2013. Some retirement!

“What's your motivation behind your success?”
Surprisingly a lot of motivation has come from pain and insecurities. Some aspects of my life growing up were not that pleasant, so bobsled and the dream of the Olympics and the desire to make a difference in the world was my way of dealing with those pains and hurts. When I worried I wasn't going to measure up to this mythical standard of perfection I created for myself, I threw myself into projects or bobsled or speaking or charity work. We so often try to avoid pain, but sometimes our deepest wounds are what bring the greatest healing. I wanted to succeed so that I could create a powerful, light-filled life that would help brings others out of their own darkness.

“On days when you're just not feeling it, what pushes you to get yourself to the track?”
Since I have been sliding for over thirteen years now I have had plenty of days like this. I think what pushes me to get to the track when I’m feeling sick or discouraged or down is that I hate leaving something half-finished. Excuses are easy to make, but efforts take work and they are the only things that bring results. So there’s that, plus I feel like my commitments to my teammates and my coaches need to be honored, so no matter what I’m feeling I always try to show up ready to work and win.

“How is prepping for a run similar to how u prep for life?”
Prepping for a run down the track is all about that: preparation. We walk the track beforehand with coaches to study the ice and refresh our mind as to what we will do in each turn. Then we get the sled ready for the training session or race. A big part for me is the visualization. I find a quiet spot to stand or sit and just drive the track in my mind, imagining every turn, every straight, every pressure and movement. From top to bottom, I drive the track perfectly in my mind, exactly how I want to do in reality.

I would say that yes, this habit has helped me prep for life because each of us is walking our own path, our own “track” if you will. We all have coaches who are trying to guide and teach us along the way, we have teammates who support and love us and we all have “sleds” (i.e. our bodies) that we need to take care of. But at the end of the day, to be successful we need to have desire, determination, and dedication. We should visualize where we want our lives to go then go out there and make it happen.

“How do you deal with a bad run?”
A bad run used to bother me quite a bit. I would put myself down or criticize my driving abilities. But over the years I came to see that every run is a learning experience, and that includes perfect runs and horrible ones. Whether we get it right the first time or it takes ten trips down the track, we can learn from every experience in life. Life is a classroom and we are learning every day. Of course we are going to make mistakes along the way and that’s ok!

“Why do you feel it's important to share your story? What are you hoping to help others avoid/overcome?”
People look at the bobsled thing and often place a lot of emphasis and respect on it. Because of that I feel like I’m in a unique spot to share my story, especially the parts about the challenges I have overcome including the insecurities, the battles with anxiety and depression, the drama/setback of sport and even my thoughts of suicide. If my story can help inspire just one person to change their life or find hope where they thought hope was lost then all of my efforts are worth it in my book.

“Why is bobsledding so important to you? What would it mean to you if you had to give it all up tomorrow?”
Bobsled has always been a guiding light for my life. It inspired me to try harder, dream bigger and dare to change the world. It has also been a supportive friend during life’s challenges, so in all honesty I have a hard time imagining life without being involved in the sport in some capacity. If I had to give it all up tomorrow, I’d probably want to die in my sleep tonight!

“When you are old, what do you want to be most remembered for?”
I think I would want to be remembered for making a difference in the world. I want to live such a life as to be a light in the world that inspires others to dream, to hope, to laugh and to love. And when I pass on from this life, I want that legacy of light and hope to be passed on to others, like the flame of the Olympic torch.

“What's the most gratifying experience you've ever had?”
I think getting to coach the U.S. Adaptive Bobsled Team, some of the first Paralympic bobsled athletes in the world. It was a wonderful group of athletes and such a thrill to be making history like that.

“What's the most exciting moment you've ever experienced?”
That’s a tough one. Every race, every media event and every speaking engagement has its own exciting memories. One of the most recent, though, was doing a photo and film shoot with a crew who were gathering footage for use in Russia during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. That was fun.

“When you work with your students, what are the most important values you hope to instill on them?”
I think that to be a good bobsled athlete, or to be a good person for that matter, you need to have core values. I try to focus on teamwork, motivation, hope, compassion, forgiveness, respect, integrity, and dedication through hard work. It is amazing how cultivating those traits can make you successful at just about anything in life.

"When and where can people watch you train/race?"
Currently my team and I train mostly at the Park City, Utah track at the following times:

  • Tue/Wed/Thu: 6-8pm
  • Fri: 3-5pm
  • Sat: 12-2pm

I would suggest checking with us before you show up just in case something changes. People can hit me up on Facebook to follow our exploits and see what our schedule will be week to week.

Fire on Ice by Jeremy C Holm

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Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.