No track? No problem

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Akwasi Frimpong is headed to Lake Placid, New York this week, but he won’t be sprinting around a track in shorts. He’ll be in a full bodysuit, helmet, gloves and special spikes for ice running for the American Cup bobsled races March 8-10.

Yes, the rumors are true. Frimpong is trying his own version of a 1993 cult classic,“Cool Runnings.” In November 2012, after only pushing a sled on the ice track twice, Frimpong joined the Dutch national bobsled team at the World Cup races in Park City, Utah.

Back in the summer, when he was trying to qualify for the London Olympics, Frimpong was courted by the Dutch bobsled Olympic team, training for about five days at the push track in Hardenwijk, Netherlands. A push track is a bobsled on wheels that runs down a small hill on rails on dry land.

“I pushed once with the team on the push track [in June], and they told me I have the natural ability to be a great bobsled athlete due to my power and speed,” Frimpong said.

IMG_14703Back then, Frimpong was still reeling from his missed Olympic track chance, and recovering from an injury. But in September, encouraged by his private coach, Timothy O’Mara, Frimpong decided to give bobsledding a chance.

“I still had not yet been in a bobsled on the ice yet. I may be strong and fast, but not every track athlete can run on ice,” Frimpong said.

The Dutch team came up to Park City during November, and he got his final chance to make the Dutch national team.

“I did really well for my first time, according to Ivo De Bruin, the driver, and Nicola Minichiello, the national coach,” Frimpong said.

The team qualified for the four-man World Cup Race in Park City, with Frimpong as the brakeman.

“This was my first time in the bobsled,” Frimpong said. “But I officially showed that I was not only strong and fast on dry land, but that I could fly on the ice as well.”

Frimpong is graduating in marketing this April from Utah Valley University. Due to a role elimination at his former work place, Frimpong can now concentrate on training and school.

“After being noticed by the Dutch team last year, I told myself not to be sad anymore about missing out on the 2012 Track and Field Olympic Games and give bobsled a chance,” Frimpong said. “There are not many athletes that get another chance in multiple sports in their careers. I’m still learning a lot, but I have never made it to the world stage level in sports, after training in total for only eight days with a national team.”

“I guess for years I have been prepared for bobsledding without knowing it,” Frimpong said. “If I can’t sprint fast enough, maybe I can push hard enough, which I have done my whole life. Pushing myself to the next level, creating opportunities and being patient in life.”

By Karissa Neely