The Olympics mark a time of year that comes every-so-often where we join across the globe to support our favorite athletes, cheer for our countries, and watch in amazement as representatives of the world perform incredible feats of courage, strength, and precision. As a company that originated in New York, we thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of the athletes from the tri-state area that will be representing us in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games!
First-Time Olympian Hunter Church of Cadyville, NY is a 3rd generation bobsledder! His first experience with bobsledding was when he was only 7 years old at Lake Placid on the Mount Van Hoevenberg track. When Church was 12, his father signed him up for the junior bobsled program at the same track. Every Sunday he would take 4-5 runs with other young bobsledders before heading home to Cadyville, NY an hour away. For him, it was a low key and fun activity with very little stress associated with it.
At 15, Church was invited to attend his first international bobsled driver’s school in Park City Utah. Church has recalled that because of the distance to practice, his father would pick him up from school every day at 2:15, missing part of his last period class. On the way to and from practice he would work on his homework. Outside of bobsledding, Church was also wrestling, doing indoor track, and choir. He has admitted himself that perhaps he tried to do too much during this period.
The summer before Church’s senior year, he worked at the Lake Placid Lodge to pay for a semester at the Lake Placid-based National Sports Academy, becoming their first, and only bobsled athlete (before they closed in 2015). It was at NSA that Church got to train and focus on bobsledding, he notes that the semester at NSA is what really drew him into the sport. It was there that he decided that he was going to pursue a path in bobsledding, although he never imagined he would be competing at the level he is at today! Church will be competing in the 2 and 4-man bobsleigh events in the Beijing 2022 Olympics!
Hakeem Abdul-Saboor of East Orange, NJ is a Two-Time Olympic bobsledder, who previously competed in the 2018 Pyeong Chang Olympic games. He originally thought he would make his way in the NFL, but a torn ACL in college put an end to that dream. After physical therapy, Abdul-absoor shifted his focus to bodybuilding, performing well in many competitions. Still feeling like he hadn’t found his calling, he pivoted once again and became a professional trainer and personal quickness coach.
One day, the US Olympic committee reached out to Abdul-Saboor after seeing videos of him performing incredible feats of athleticism. The sport they suggested he try out for: bobsledding. With his interest sparked, he accepted the invitation. Within a year he had competed in three World Cup bobsled events as a pusher. Abdul-Saboor finally found his true calling. All of his years of athletic training and schooling as a personal trainer has paid off, he is competing in the bobsled events in the Beijing 2022 Olympics!
Hannah Soar of Sommers, CT is making her Olympic debut this year in the Women’s Moguls event in Beijing! Soar began her skiing journey at just 18months old! Held between her parents and using a set of small plastic skis, she took her first trip down the mountain at Killington, Vermont. At 2 years of age, she was upgraded to a tether that was still attached to her parents, so that she gained more freedom of movement and confidence in her actions on the slopes. When she was old enough to ski on her own, Soar would wait for someone she trusted to help her onto the lift. By the age of 8, she was a member of a freestyle skiing team, and by 12 she was competing in her first junior national championship.
Soar has recalled that as a child, she hated the pressure of competing. She loved to ski and she loved to be up on the mountain, but something about the competition aspect of her sport brought her much anxiety. She has even mentioned that at some points her anxiety got so bad that she would get sick before a run or get nervous at the starting gate. It took time for her to feel in-control of her anxiety and confidently push past her nerves. Soars credits meditation and mindfulness practices to her calmed state and for her ever-growing love for skiing. In highschool Soar set her mind to getting to the Olympics and at 22 years old she is seeing her hard work come to fruition. Make sure to keep an eye out for newcomer Hannah Soar in the Women’s moguls events at the Beijing Olympics!
Olivia Giaccio of Redding, CT is another tri-state athlete making their Olympic debut! She will be competing in the women’s moguls event, and has previously been an alternate at the 2018 PeyongChang Olympics.
From the moment she entered her first mogul competition, Giaccio was hooked. The adrenaline rush she associates with stepping into the gate before a run is a feeling she says she will cherish for years after she retires from mogul skiing.
Giaccio is always competing with herself, pushing herself to be the best athlete she can be. She was the first woman to ever attempt a cork 1080 in moguls World Cup competition, and landed it! She currently skis the most difficult run out of the women on the World Cup circuit. Keep an eye out for her in the women’s moguls event at the Beijing Olympics!