Fast Sleds, Black Women and Two Decades of Medals

Aja Evans

“Do you wear a seatbelt?” “How fast do you go?” “Have you crashed?”

“You know you should really wear a seatbelt, don’t you?”

Evans is a Black woman and an Olympic medalist in a sport unfamiliar to many of the children she meets. But in their questions, Evans senses the same delightful curiosity she once had, a beckoning to venture beyond the norm or the expectations associated with one’s environment.

“This is a sport for everyone,” Evans said. “The more Black people you see, the more you realize that we’re not limited and you have to see it to believe it.”

A generation after the bobsledder Vonetta Flowers wept through the United States’ national anthem in 2002, when she became the first Black athlete to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics, Black women now make up a majority of America’s Olympic bobsled team.

Vonetta Flowers

Seven of the eight members of America’s women’s World Cup bobsled team, in fact, are Black, as are four of the five at the Beijing Olympics.

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