OLYMPIC DREAMS AT 80 MPH
By Todd R. Condie, ’03
From the first time she stepped on a soccer field at BYU until her last game in 1998, Shauna L. Rohbock, '99, dominated. Leading the team in scoring all four years she played, Rohbock earned three All-America citations during her career. Adding two other All-America awards she earned in the heptathlon makes Shauna Rohbock one of the most highly decorated female athletes in the university's history. But she isn't finished yet. If Rohbock has her way, she will become only the second BYU alum to medal in the Winter Olympic games.
Shortly before the end of her senior year, Rohbock and several other heptathletes from BYU were recruited by Bonny Warner, a member of the U.S. national bobsleigh team. Despite having only practiced pushing a sled for a few days, Rohbock made the team as a brakeman. In only her first year competing, Rohbock and her driver, Jill Bakken, placed second in the world.
Now Rohbock is entering her third year of international competition and has her sights set on competing for the gold medal in Salt Lake City, the first time women's bobsleigh will be a medal event. As a brakeman, she helps her driver at the beginning of the run to propel the sled, which can weigh up to 700 pounds. As they descend, Rohbock counts turns so that she can brake when the run is over. During a typical 60-second run, her sled reaches speeds of nearly 80 mph.
Of her new sport, Rohbock says, "When I first saw it, I thought it would be easy. The brakeman runs 30 or 40 meters and gets in. I thought, I ran for 90 minutes in soccer and did seven events in the heptathlon. This is going to be cake. But it's actually very physically and mentally challenging. But the feeling of it is amazing."
Only two of the national team's three sleds will compete in Salt Lake City, but Rohbock is confident of her chances.
Even if successful, Rohbock won't be the first Winter Olympian to have emerged from BYU's ranks. Barbara D. Lockhart, '71, now a BYU professor of physical education, competed in speed skating in both 1960 and 1964. Jean M. Saubert, '76, also competed in 1964, earning a silver medal in the giant slalom and a bronze in the slalom.
UPDATE: As this magazine was going to press in mid-December, Shauna Rohbock's plans suddenly changed. Driver Jill Bakken selected a new brakeman a week before the Olympic trials, sending Rohbock home earlier than she had hoped.