Sister of Vikings' Evans ready for her Olympic bobsled debut

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 17, 2014 - 1:55 PM

The sister of Vikings defensive tackle Fred Evans has made a quick ascent in U.S. bobsledding.

hide

Elana Meyers, left, and Aja Evans of the United States

Photo: Matthias Schrader, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– Aja Evans stood at the top of a hill for her moment of truth two years ago, a moment she described as “really awkward.”

Evans, the younger sister of Vikings defensive tackle Fred Evans, had made her mark as a standout track and field athlete in college. But this was something foreign to her. She was about to launch her first run down a bobsled track.

“There’s no way to get your feet wet in this sport,” she said. “I was like a deer in the headlights. No matter what people tell you, their stories or what to expect, you really don’t know until you go down the track. It was definitely one of those points where I was like, ‘OK, do I really want to do this? Just go for it. Suck it up and be a big girl.’ ”

She did, and then came her second moment of truth.

“When I got to the bottom of the track, I’m like, ‘I’m either going to go that way to the car or I’m going back to the top and keep going,’ ” she said. “I made the decision to stick with it.”

Funny thing happened, too. She was natural, so much so that Evans went from beginner to Olympian in a short time.

Evans qualified for the Sochi Games as a pusher/brakeperson for pilot Jamie Greubel. Their competition begins Tuesday, and the Greubel-Evans team is considered a medal contender.

Evans is one of three U.S. pushers with a track and field background. Lolo Jones is a two-time Olympic hurdler. Lauryn Williams is a three-time Olympic sprinter who won silver in the 100 meters in the 2004 Games and gold in the 4x100 relay at the 2012 Games.

Evans has aspirations to compete in the Summer Games someday, too. The Chicago native has such unique athletic versatility that she competed as a sprinter and in the shot put at the University of Illinois. She became an All-America and Big Ten champion in the shot put.

Evans returned to Chicago and worked as an instructor at a training facility after graduation. She still desired to compete in athletics but was unsure of her next move.

Mike Erb, her coach at Illinois, mentioned the possibility of trying out for bobsled. He figured Evans’ combination of speed and power would translate into the role of pusher.

The idea intrigued Evans, who had a limited knowledge of the sport but loved the movie “Cool Runnings,” which was based on the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Olympics.

Evans found information about bobsled combine testing online and decided to give it a shot. Not only did she compete, but she also finished first by scoring 794 out of a possible 800 points to win the 2012 U.S. National Push Championship title. She later was named USA’s Bobsled rookie of the year. By the end of 2013, she had won two World Cup medals.

And now she’s at the Olympics.

“A lot of my success came from my athleticism and being so strong and powerful and the track and field background,” she said. “In this sport, you don’t get to get to learn stuff in advance. It’s not like there’s a bobsled track in Chicago. You have to learn by experience.”

Evans comes from an athletic family. Her brother plays in the NFL, and her cousin is former Major League Baseball player Gary Matthews Jr. She trains with NFL players, including Bears running back Matt Forte, at EFT Sports Performance in Chicago.

“I’m the only female athlete out there, so it’s a really cool experience,” she said. “They know how to get out there and grind it out and still have an enjoyable atmosphere.”

Fred Evans planned to be in Sochi to watch his sister compete. The veteran defensive tackle provided updates to teammates on her training this season and even live-streamed one of her races.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close