Name: Kati Beierl
Location: Innsbruck – AUSTRIA
Occupation: Sports Police Officer
Austrian bobsledding Olympian Kati Beierl grew up in an athletic family, and she had high hopes from when she was just a child. Both of her parents were world class track and field competitors, and that gave her high hopes, as did visiting her bathroom.
“My mother was at the Olympic Games 1988 in South Korea and hung her certificate on the toilet, so everyone had to see it,” she recalls. “Little Kati really wanted to make it to the games.”
After dabbling in track and field for a while, she found herself looking for a sport she could really connect with. At the suggestion of her training team, she called the head coach of Austrian bobsledding, who invited her to the push track.
“The first summer I spent training with the team I didn’t exactly know what bobsledding was,” she admits. “But when I did it for the very first time on ice I knew that this would be my new sport.”
After two and a half years of ‘sliding,’ (as it’s called) she made her World Cup debut. By 2018 she found herself at the Europacup with her team, which was where qualifying races for the Olympics began.
“The first big moment I will probably never forget was leading into the second run of the Europacup in Norway,” she remembers. “It was a crazy experience to be the last two people in the start house. Luckily we were able to win those races.”
The mental toughness required to compete at this level can’t be overstated. Teams have two runs, and if they do well on the first run, then it’s important that the second is just as stellar. The pressure to be among some of the finest bobsledding teams in the world can be excruciating, but each race brings them closer to comfort.
“All of the races have helped me so much, each one helped me to find my own way of dealing with the pressure. I try to be as relaxed and happy as possible before going down the track.”
Mind you, these sleds reach speeds up to 93 miles per hour!
“Every race is a unique challenge, it never feels the same,” Kati says. “Standing on the starting block is the most exciting feeling I’ve ever experienced. At the moment we do the command, all my thoughts are gone, it’s just pushing at full speed, as hard and fast as you can. Then we jump in. I take two deep breaths and try to be the most chilled version of myself. In the track my only focus is the next curve.”
Ever the competitor, Kati is entering a new discipline: Monobob, which is being introduced at the Olympics in 2022.
“Normally I push on the sidebar and my brakegirl is pushing at the back. In Monobob, the pilot is not only the pilot, but also the brakegirl,” she explains. “I push in the back, then do a big step into the sled, sit down and steer it through the track. After the finish line, I pull the brakes to stop the sled.”
For Kati, her life revolves around training, competing, eating, sleeping, all in a consistent routine that helps her maintain her body and her mind. It was the daily grind that got her and her teammate Jenny through the summer, when – because of Covid – they didn’t know if they’d even be sliding this winter. Once they were sure that the races were on, Kati’s singular focus was even more clear.
“My biggest goal is getting an Olympic medal, everything I do is to get me there. My pusher, Jenny, moved from the Netherlands to my place, so we could train together. She even gave up her Dutch citizenship and got an Austrian passport in December.”
These two ladies are unstoppable. First they head to the World Championships in February, and then the Olympic Games next year.
“I know that my sporting career will not be forever,” Kati says. “It’s very important for me to have a perspective for my life after, so I can also be good at my job after bobsledding.”
What advice does this awesome athlete have to pass on to young people growing up with big dreams and maybe a pinch of doubt about their ability to get there?
“The most important thing is to think big and stick to your dreams! If you want it badly enough, and you work for it every day, you’ll get the chance to reach your goals. And never, ever quit your project just because anybody tells you that you’re not going to be able to do it. Many people, especially men, told me that I wouldn’t be a world class bobsledder. But now I’m here, I’ve competed at the Olympic Games and reached World Cup podiums. You can do this!”
Amazing work, Kati! We at Sock It To Me are rooting for you!
Follow along with Kati on her social media accounts below, and keep an eye out for the following upcoming events:
Facebook: Bobteam Beierl
World Championships 2021: February 6th-14th
Olympic Games 2022, Beijing: February 2022