The time has come.
The 2108 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, Korea, from February 9-25, 2018. In Israel, it is next to impossible to train for snow and ice sports. However, 10 Israelis will participate in the 2018 Olympics.
The 1993 Walt Disney movie “Cool Runnings” was about an unlikely Winter Olympic Jamaican bobsled team. It featured funny man John Candy and was mostly fictional.
“Cool Runnings” is back in the news. The movie was not shown in an American high school, after complaints of “racial stereotypes” were raised. Farce and exaggeration in humor are considered insensitive these days.
However, with the countdown for the 2018 Winter Olympics, there is a similar, but true story.
Israeli AJ Edelman is set to break another racial stereotype and participate in skeleton.
For those who think skeleton means a set of bones, this definition is from the official Winter Olympics website:
SKELETON RACING INVOLVES PLUMMETING HEAD-FIRST DOWN A STEEP AND TREACHEROUS ICE TRACK ON A TINY SLED.
Skeleton sled racing owes it entire early history to St Moritz and the famed Cresta Run. The sport developed in the Swiss resort town as a pursuit for the rich…Men’s skeleton made two early appearances on the Olympic programme at its “ancestral” home of St. Moritz in 1928 and 1948. It was then dropped until it reappeared as a men’s and women’s event at Salt Lake City in 2002.
AJ, a Boston native, was in Jerusalem, Israel, in June 2016, and shared his story at a reunion of former students, faculty and supporters of his Orthodox day school. At the time AJ needed 6 more races to qualify. He recently reached his goal.
While attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering in 2014, AJ wanted to play on the MIT ice hockey team. However, being Sabbath-observant, he was not able to play at college level on a team sport.
When AJ discovered skeleton, he was off and running, onto his sled and down the special tracks. It is a sport where fractions of a second count and years of intensive training are required.
AJ has a new helmet for the Olympics, giving credit to his parents who have supported him. Israeli flags are an important part of his uniform. Many parents want their son to be a doctor, but AJ’s goal was to be an Olympic athlete. His Israeli Olympic skeleton uniform cost $500 US. Israeli athletes pay their own expenses, they are not supported by government funds as in most other countries.
In order to train, AJ had to spend time in Europe. Kosher food was important to him and often hard to obtain. At these Olympic Games, kosher food will be available.
The movie “Cool Runnings” was a fictional story about a unlikely 4-man bobsled team. AJ’s story is almost as unlikely, but true, and all the more awesome and cool.
A young Jewish Orthodox athlete is off to fulfill his Olympic dream.
Skeleton runs are scheduled from Monday, February 12-15, with awards on 16-17.
— AJ Edelman, Olympic Skeleton Athlete (@IsraelSkeleton) February 2, 2018
For the latest on the Israeli Olympians: @FollowTeamIsrael