By Michael Burke
As the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang approach, U.S. Olympic Bobsledding star Elana Meyers Taylor is showing her support for the Concussion Legacy Foundation and raising awareness about concussions. Meyers Taylor is sporting a Concussion Legacy Foundation logo on her helmet during the 2017-18 IBSF Bobsleigh World Cup leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Her aim is to encourage other athletes to educate themselves about the risks of concussions and to avoid a mistake that almost cost Meyers Taylor her career.
A world-champion athlete who started competing for the USA Bobsled team in 2007, Meyers Taylor medaled in the last two Olympics—bronze in Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Sochi in 2014. But her bobsledding career was derailed by a concussion in 2015.
At the fourth World Cup race of the 2014-15 season in Koenigssee, Germany, Meyers Taylor and brakewoman Cherrelle Garrett crashed during their second run. They finished the race, but the impact left Meyers Taylor with a concussion.
Doctors cleared Meyers Taylor to race just four days later, but she knew something wasn’t right. “I felt OK, but my memory and concentration were off,” she told ESPNW a year after the incident. “I relied on my feel as a driver in the days and weeks ahead, though -- and I won a world championship title less than a month after that high-speed crash. My concussion worries were behind me, or so I thought.”
Meyers Taylor received treatment in the offseason, but her drive and determination to compete led her to push through concussion symptoms again. “When I got back to sliding in October, my reactions were slow and my practice runs shaky. I took another knock to the head in November during a World Cup stop in Altenberg, Germany -- one of the toughest tracks in the world -- and then the headaches returned.”
She was forced to drop out of the World Cup to recover.
“I was devastated. There was nothing I wanted more than to slide down that hill. When that opportunity is taken away, it feels like your heart is being ripped out. I thought my season might be over -- and maybe even my career. I'm a world-champion athlete, sidelined by an invisible injury.”
Meyers Taylor now looks at concussions and recovery differently. “If I'm tired or something doesn't feel right, I make sure not to go again. It's too dangerous to push through it.”
After learning the importance of proper rest and treatment for concussions firsthand, Meyers Taylor is healthy and as competitive as ever. Meyers Taylor earned three silver and two bronze medals already at the first five of eight 2017-18 IBSF Bobsleigh World Cup races leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Meyers Taylor's has two races left leading up to PyeongChang:
January 13th - St. Moritz, Switzerland
Janaury 20th - Konigssee, Germany