I’m a bobsledder for Team USA (yes, like “Cool Runnings”) and my name is pronounced “Asia” like the continent (and 9 times out of 10 if you’re a Steely Dan fan then you already knew that). I’m from the Southside of Chicago and in my spare time I enjoy documentaries on Bigfoot, aliens, and #SharkWeek in July. I come from a super athletic family; from my brother who played 8 years in the NFL to my uncle Gary Matthews who goes by “Sarge” in the MLB. I‘m currently in Calgary, Canada gearing up for Team Selections for the upcoming Olympic Year. I won a shiny Bronze Medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and I’m trying to upgrade that to GOLD in 2018 in Pyeongchang. AMA!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/lbnxizwgkkbz.jpg

Comments: 170 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

rsltx119 karma

How do you feel about Michael Phelps not racing a real shark?

AjaLEvans122 karma

I was a little let down... I thought I was going to witness a live "Jaws" scene lol

lentzk236 karma

Real question is can you beat a shark in a sledding race?

AjaLEvans74 karma

haha that's a legit question, I definitely think we could give a good run for its money! Depending on the track we can reach speeds at over 90 mph!

the70sdiscoking31 karma

Hey, Aja... ya dead?

AjaLEvans46 karma

No mon

Alexjessa02030825 karma

Hey Aja! Thanks for doing this AMA. Were you close with Steve? How is everyone at Bobsled doing? Sending the whole team condolences.

AjaLEvans24 karma

Thank you for that <3 We were all one big family, and will forever be #TeamHolcomb .... Everyone is doing well, we are currently in Calgary, Canada preparing for Push Championships! :)

deedaree-10 karma

You mean Calgary, Alberta

AjaLEvans4 karma

My bad

bethereinfive21 karma

How did you get into bobsledding?

AjaLEvans47 karma

My collegiate coach introduced me to the idea. During my senior year at Univ of Ill., he told me about the sport and how they look for powerhouse athletes from all different sports. Because I threw shot put and sprinted in college, I had such a unique combo that transferred well into the sport. About a year and a half after graduating I went and tried out for the team! And ended up being pretty good :)

Alexjessa02030820 karma

Also, curious, how much do you need to work out to be a bobsledder? Mostly running?

AjaLEvans80 karma

The off-season is where we build all of our power, strength, and speed for the sport. We do a lot of speed training, but we also do a lot of lifting. All bobsledders have big butts because we squat so much lol "Ass moves mass" :)

mymorningjacket19 karma

Is Cool Runnings your favorite documentary?

AjaLEvans27 karma

It's definitely in my top 10... lol and that was before i did the sport!

reggodin13 karma

do you have a favorite bobsled track?

AjaLEvans17 karma

Yes, I have two favorites.... my favorite home track is Lake Placid, NY even though it's arguably one of the roughest in the world... I've done some pretty serious damage there, and it's always fun to race in front of the home crowd!

My favorite European track is in St. Moritz, Switzerland... It's gorgeous and the only "natural track" on tour. All the other track on tour have a refrigeration system that keeps the ice together. In St. Mortiz, they literally build the track up every year, and we usually race there when it's reallyyyyyy cold outside.

chefr8913 karma

How much support do you get participating in a sport that mostly only gets attention once every four years (for Americans anyways)? I think you are a phenomenal athlete and genuinely don't mean to take anything away from your accomplishments. I know ya'll work year-round and just because it's not the Winter Olympics, doesn't mean there aren't international tournaments/championships going on. I just genuinely wonder about what type of support our athletes get in some of the more 'unique' events/sports.

AjaLEvans17 karma

This is a great question! It can be tough because as you said, most Olympic sports are only popular every four years... I get a lot of support though from friends, family, and people all across the world. They connect with me on more than just an Olympic level... I feel like my story and where I'm from speaks volumes and people relate to that grind and accomplishing your goals and wildest dreams, rather than just the "Olympics"

chefr892 karma

Awesome, thanks for the reply! Wishing you and others all the best!

AjaLEvans3 karma

Thank you!

snorlz12 karma

what do the people in the back of the sled do after they get in?

AjaLEvans44 karma

pray! haha

AjaLEvans36 karma

But really, we just try and relax and stay calm until we past the finish line and then pull the brakes

Nut_Cancer11 karma

Can your uncle really cook as well as he says he can?

AjaLEvans10 karma

Yes! The best I know! I'm still trying to get my hands on his banana pancake recipe

kurtduds11 karma

Do you practice the track in the bath like in Cool Runnings?

AjaLEvans8 karma

Haha no

RealBuckNasty10 karma

Do you still live on the south side?

AjaLEvans22 karma

I live in the south suburbs right now, Homewood

dctricie7 karma

Who's your favorite Aunt?

AjaLEvans12 karma

hahahahahaha I plead the fifth

reggodin7 karma

mayweather or mcgregor?

AjaLEvans8 karma

Money May

Sycou6 karma

How often do people make Cool Runnings jokes and how do you respond to them? Also if you had to put together a Bobsled team consisting only of fictional monsters and characters what would your team be ?

AjaLEvans9 karma

I get "Cool Runnings" jokes 9/10 times people ask me question about what I do haha.. But it's all fun, I think it's cool that they even know that much about the sport. And if I had to put together a bobsled team with only fictional characters and monsters I would have Batman as the driver and Bigfoot on brakes... think about it... they still have caught big foot yet lol

Came_to_name_a_puppy5 karma

Cubs or White Sox? Ketchup on a Hotdog or Not? How do you even find bobsledding as a child to start learning?

AjaLEvans17 karma

I was born into the CUBS family. My uncle is Gary "Sarge" Matthews who played and coached for the Cubs. As kids, my sis and I went to all the Cubs games and Cubs conventions.

I gotta be one of the few from Chicago who doesn't like Chicago style hotdogs haha just Ketchup please!

My collegiate coach introduced me to the idea of doing bobsled. During my senior year at Univ of Ill., he told me about the sport and how they look for powerhouse athletes from all different sports. Because I threw shot put and sprinted in college, I had such a unique combo that transferred well into the sport. About a year and a half after graduating I went and tried out for the team! And ended up being pretty good..

AjaLEvans5 karma

Most people in the sport started after their collegiate careers. So the age range is typically early 20s to mid/late 30s depending on your position. Drivers typically tend to have more longevity in the sport.

WickedSushi4 karma

Speaking of Steely Dan. What's your favorite Steely Dan song?

AjaLEvans11 karma

It would have to be "Aja" haha no one sings my name better :)

pyramidsofmoney4 karma

What's your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Favorite restaurant? Way to rep the city!

AjaLEvans6 karma

I loveeeee food! So dining out is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Chicago! Some of my favorite resurtants are Jellyfish, Sunda, RPM Steak, and Ja' Grill

Alexjessa0203084 karma

Coolest thing about Olympic village?

AjaLEvans4 karma

Chilling with Olympians from all over the WORLD! Literally the best of the best, just hanging out and getting to know each other. Such a fun experience!

auntjudy3 karma

How did it feel to come back last year from major knee surgery and win. World championship?

AjaLEvans3 karma

Dealing with my ACL surgery and recovery was the hardest thing I've done in my athletic career. That process plays a lot of mind games on you and makes you realize how bad you really want it (or don't)... Coming back after ACL surgery (and a 2 year hiatus) was intimdating at first. But, once I got back going and in that environment, I quickly got back to my old self. The thing that excited me the most was how well I performed given all the circumstances. Let just say I'm pretty excited to pursue this Olympic year now that I've gotten some more time and experience under my belt!

Twowheelsquiddy3 karma

How does one train for bob during the summertime? Will y'all be running the COP bob tracks with the bobs that they have open to public or do you bring your own summer training bob? As someone who has never mustered the courage to do it even though its five minutes away from home, how does it feel the first time going down?

AjaLEvans5 karma

We come to cities like Calgary, that have an ice house so we can practice pushing the sled on ice during the summer. We also train a lot in Lake Placid, NY at the Olympic Training Center. And there we have a push track, which is basically a dry land version of our start.

My first time down the track is still so hard to explain haha. My eyes were as big as my head (and I got a big ol head) and I was so confused. Lol I didn't understand why anyone would want to do that sport. After my first trip down the track I went and called my mom and asked if I could come home lol and she told me "You better go back to the top of that hill and go again" I rolled my eyes and did it, then my third day ever on the ice my teammate and I set the start record and won team trials. So I was like... I guess I like start records and winning so I'll stick around ;)

ShooterMcGillicuti3 karma

Hi Aja, what is your favorite... Food, Movie and Song?

AjaLEvans6 karma

fave food is hmmm.... everything haha. If I had to choose I would say tacos! Fave movie is probably "Bad Boys 2" lol, and my favorite song is "Never Give Up" by Yolanda Adams

scooby4143 karma

What type of build and/or fitness level does one need to be at to perform well in bobsledding? More endurance or power based?

AjaLEvans5 karma

It's definitely more of a power based sport! We have to push a 300+ lb sled as fast as possible for roughly 30-40m... You need a lot of power and speed

notuntilfour_3 karma

Hi Aja! What is your favorite memory of your career, while competing or otherwise?

AjaLEvans5 karma

One of my favorite memories of my career while competing was honestly when I came through the finish line at the 2014 Olympic Games. It wasn't because we won a medal, it was more so I was glad it was over! haha so much went into that very moment, and we we passed the finish line and I saw my entire family there cheering and celebrating our medal it was the biggest breath of fresh air!!!

pipsdontsqueak3 karma

Why bobsled over skeleton or luge?

AjaLEvans12 karma

Yeah no way I would do skele or luge, haha I'm not that adventurous... I think bobsled allows for me to use my skills and assets the best.

Unuhpropriate2 karma

Aja, who wins in a sprint, you or Jesse Lumsden?

Us Canadians are born running on ice, how does he fair on a track?

AjaLEvans4 karma

Haha I think I got Jesse for the first 10m. He's fast though!

ClaptrapPaddywhack2 karma

You did a photo shoot for the ESPN: The Body issue a few years back. How was that? What's colder, the track or that set?

AjaLEvans3 karma

That shoot was so much fun!!! I was so nervous at first but the photographers and crew were so accommodating and made me feel really comfortable. We shot it at a private airplane hanger in Connecticut, it was super cool!

reggodin1 karma

After bobsledding, what is your favorite winter sport?

AjaLEvans2 karma

When I went to the 2014 Winter Olympics I had the pleasure of witnessing so many cool events live! A few of my favorites were speedskating, ski moguls, snowboarding, ski jumps, ice hockey, and figure skating

iGoalie1 karma

How can I sign up to be the 2nd or 3rd man in the 4 man bobsled team? #lifeGoals "I want to be an Olympic Passenger" - Mitch Hedberg

Do the 2nd and 3rd people actually do anything after the initial push or are the literally just along for the ride?

AjaLEvans2 karma

Lol they actually do passenger rides at both of the US tracks. So they'll take you down the track in a 4man sled in Lake Placid, NY or Park City, UT. You should try it!

And every position matters. In 4man, they have to stay relaxed and as aerodynamic as possible so they have to maintain a certain posture and stay in unison with the movements of the sled.

Alexjessa0203081 karma

What was it like shooting the body issue? Liberating?

AjaLEvans1 karma

Definitely! That shoot was so much fun! And one of my most comfortable shoots

4964d3aae7085d86607b1 karma

How do you like Calgary? What do you do during your downtime?

AjaLEvans2 karma

I love it here! I have some friends that play for the stampeders so they've been showing us around town! It's definitely a gorgeous city, and I had the pleasure of visiting Banff and it's absolutely breathtaking!

AjaLEvans2 karma

In my downtime I like to chill and binge watch so Netflix shows... I also like to get out and try some of the restaurants in town! I'm going to the Stampeders game this weekend too!

delicious_tomato1 karma

Sox or Cubs?

Very important to know this as a fellow south-sider.

AjaLEvans3 karma

I'm a avid South Sider but when it comes to baseball I gotta rep the Cubs! That's family, my uncle coached and played for the Cubs as well as my cousin

delicious_tomato1 karma

Totally understand, although I'm a Sox fan myself!

AjaLEvans1 karma

After the Olympics I threw the first pitch on Opening Day at the White Sox game!

IrieMars1 karma

Where would you go on vacation next?

AjaLEvans1 karma

Hmmmm... definitely somewhere tropical after all this winter weather I deal with during the season. Maldives and Bora Bora are in my list, I'm in love with those gut style resorts right on the water! Any recommendations?

reggodin1 karma

who do you think posts the best memes on Instagram?

AjaLEvans3 karma

me, duh

shityouthguydoes1 karma

Hey Aja, welcome back to Calgary! Did you get to go to stampede? #yahoo

AjaLEvans1 karma

Unfortunately I miss it :( I got in literally the day after it ended!

shityouthguydoes1 karma

Sorry you missed it! Plenty to enjoy in Calgary year round though. Good luck!

AjaLEvans1 karma

Thank you!

AlmostTheNewestDad1 karma

You want to kiss my egg?

AjaLEvans2 karma

Only if it's the exact one from "Cool Runnings" wait... that's a bit old, never mind

UnkleAdamsBro1 karma

Why don't bobsleighs have wheels? Wouldn't they go much faster if they did?

AjaLEvans2 karma

We race on ice, I think the runners (blades) allow for more control on the ice

BartlettMagic1 karma

you sound supercool and you're super cute. how do you keep a balance between the rigorous training you have to maintain your skills, and a dating/personal life?

i can imagine you have plenty of guys/girls fawning over you, but how many of them are willing to commit to a relationship with a pro athlete that has a crazy intense practice regimen/schedule/gone for long periods of time?

edit: if you're already married, just translate the question to how your SO/kids/etc deals with your schedule?

AjaLEvans6 karma

Haha I'm not married.. and it can be a tough balance. During the season we're gone for months at a time and in the off season we balance training and we'll as even full time jobs. So sometimes our schedules don't leave much room for the dating/personal life but so many people make it work! So many of my teammates are happily married (with children) and don't skip a beat! I'm single so it makes it a little easier for me, but I'm also dating and open to building a relationship. Our schedule and what we do can be a bit intense but there are people that love, support, and understands the demands of our sport and what it takes to accomplish our dreams.

BartlettMagic2 karma

that's very good to hear. it's always good to know that our athletes have a working balance going in their pro/private lives. good luck on both fronts, i'll be rooting for you!!

AjaLEvans2 karma

Thank you very much!

ely231 karma

I really like your shirt/dress where's it from?

AjaLEvans1 karma

Haha thanks, I bought it at asos.com

sonofabutch1 karma

Wait, there's also an actress named Aja Evans? Or are you also an actress?

AjaLEvans1 karma

Yeah there's an actress with the same name

dctricie1 karma

Have you met her?

AjaLEvans1 karma

No never met her

Ha_Ree0 karma

What are other sportsmen and women like behind closed doors?

AjaLEvans2 karma

Goofy! My teammates are hilarious! We joke and laugh nonstop and it makes for great company when we're on tour and away from home for so long.

RofloOlfor0 karma

How psyched are you that the Cubs won the World Series? Question 2: are you single? 👀

AjaLEvans3 karma

1) Super psyched! I was in Utah at the time, with the team so we watched the entire series together! Also, my dream after the Olympics is to throw the first pitch at Opening Day for the Cubs!

2) yes, haha

ShadyPachyderm0 karma

I heard there are tons of hookups in the Olympic villages. Makes sense given everyone is similar age and utterly fit. What's the craziest thing you've heard about or seen?

AjaLEvans5 karma

Lol what's happens in the Olympic Village stays in the Olympic village 🤐

United_Hairlines0 karma

Does your milkshake bring all the boys to the yard?

Proof positive that it does. http://i.imgur.com/ZWvStNb.jpg

In all seriousness, what is your typical workout routine? How much do you squat/deadlift?

AjaLEvans1 karma

hahaha... My typical workouts include lots of squats and deadlifts, as well as plyos, and speed training. I love box jumps! And my max single rep squat is prob 405, and my max single rep deadlift is around 357lbs