Success has been a downward slide for Lauren Brzozowski. The 25-year-old from Wyckoff had a celebrated track career at Ramapo High School before moving on to Elon University on a full athletic scholarship specializing in 200- and 400-meter sprints and relays. She then joined the internationally acclaimed track and field program at Loughborough University in the U.K. while attaining her master's degree in marketing. That is, until Covid got in the way.
"In March of 2020, I had to leave on short notice because the borders were closing due to the pandemic," says Lauren. "It was awful. I wanted to train with my teammates, not back at home. I was in shock and began to wonder what would happen to my running career."
Fortunately, Lauren's training did not shut down during the quarantine. She was assisted by her former track coach (Mike Jackson, of Towson University) so she was in top shape during that time. "It was helpful to have people to lean on for support," says Lauren.
Many of the track meets were being canceled, but Lauren began to realize that there may be an opportunity for her in Olympic bobsledding. She reached out to fellow Elon alum Veronica Day, a track and field jumper who had made the leap to skeleton for Team USA. Veronica connected her with the recruiter for the Olympic development team and she was invited to try out for the team, having never touched a bobsled before. "I was open to other sports that would work with my track experience," says Lauren.
Starting with a potential position as a brake-woman, Lauren was able to show not only her speed (she had some of the fastest push-start times in the world) but also her strength (pushing a 400-pound bobsled) "The ice changes every day and it can affect your times, depending on the difference in the sleds and other factors," says Lauren.
She was soon selected to sit in the pilot's seat of the 2-person sled with the reassurance that she was chosen for the slot because it represented the best opportunity for her to make it to the 2026 Olympic team. "New team members are not usually put into that position, but the team needed to develop more pilots, so it was perfect timing for me," she says.
“Personally, I see more value being a pilot,” says Lauren. “I love it--and I put a lot of work into it. It's a better fit for me because it's more than just being a good athlete. It requires marketing yourself, fundraising, and being responsible for representing Team USA." Lauren also has to know the technology of the sled and check all of the mechanics, including the blades and the steering, before each ride. "Bobsledding is one of the most dangerous and expensive sports in the world. I feel passionate that what I do is about being fast as well as safe,” she says.
"It’s crazy that this is what I do for a living now,” says Lauren. “I get to travel the world and meet all kinds of people. It’s not what I had in mind as a track athlete. I went from wearing shorts and a singlet to layers of warm clothing!”
“There’s so much that’s great about the sport aside from the Olympics,” says Lauren. “I get to develop leadership qualities. I’m chasing the dreams of hard work on the ice and enjoying the rewards of it. Hopefully, I’ll have my success down the road.”
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