For some bobsled hopefuls, the Olympics may be a click away

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2018, file photo, driver Justin Olsen and Christopher Fogt, Carlo Valdes and Nathan Weber, of the United States, start their third heat during the four-man bobsled final at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. USA Bobsled and Skeleton couldn't hit the road recruiting this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. So, they made Olympic hopefuls come to them and do so online. USABS took its recruiting process digital this year and team officials say it has led to significant upticks in interest. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

USA Bobsled and Skeleton typically has staff spending part of the spring and summer months on the road recruiting, looking for new talent and luring them with the potential of representing their country in the Olympics.

This year, amid a pandemic, none of that could take place.

So USABS made the entire process digital — and so far, it’s working.

Following the same sort of thinking that works for high school athletes trying to get noticed by colleges, USABS has invited potential sliders to upload resumes and videos that show what they can do and who they are. The results have been overwhelming, both in terms of the numbers and the quality of athleticism from many who are interested.

“I would say in this short amount of time — and we’re just talking really like from May to now — I think this has been the greatest response rate of any recruiting thing that we’ve ever done,” said USABS assistant coach Mike Dionne, who handles much of the federation’s recruiting efforts. “I was shocked at the amount of responses that we were getting.”

Someone submitted video of herself pushing a car for 30 yards in a parking lot. Another sent his rugby highlights. One woman inserted a clip of her missing what would have been a game-winning goal in a state high school soccer championship game and how she grew from that experience.

USABS already has gotten dozens of serious candidates involved, through Zoom video conferences with coaches and established athletes and past bobsled and skeleton Olympians. Team officials expect many more names to get into the mix before the Sept. 30 submission deadline for consideration this season.

The idea of taking the process online, USABS CEO Aron McGuire said, was probably overdue and is likely here to stay. Athletes submit themselves running a 40-yard dash, completing a broad jump, plus fill out a questionnaire. Just like that, they officially become Olympic hopefuls.