TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. —
Emily Bradley, 14, set a new track record at Mount Van Hoevenberg on March 15, 2022, as the youngest bobsledder to pilot a sled from the highest point of a one-mile track in Lake Placid, New York.
His inspiration and mentor is none other than his father, Tech. sergeant. Michael Bradley, of the 301st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base. The aviation director has an impressive resume in bobsledding, including participating in the United States Bobsled Team Trials in 2006 and 2010 while assigned to the US World Class Athlete Program Air Force.
Not every dad can watch his daughter race down a track at 80 mph. Bradley will never forget the first time he pushed his daughter down the track.
“It was heartbreaking until she hit rock bottom,” Bradley said. “Emily just loved it! Now I know how my mom must have felt when she first pushed me onto the track.
He described passing the bobsled to his daughter as surreal, but a proud moment for him.
Emily first became interested in bobsledding after watching the USA women’s team win gold and silver at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Women were making history in the monobob event which was presented for the first time in the competition category.
After the televised games ended, the eldest Bradley knew his daughter really wanted to sled, so he bonded with old friends still involved in the sport.
Timing was everything for the Bradleys, and it was in their favor.
Two weeks later, they flew to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation development camp in Lake Placid.
Emily was about to embark on a bobsleigh run on one of the most technically demanding tracks in the world. Her father credits the Air Force for helping prepare her for times like the one she was about to experience.
“On active duty and now as a reservist, my training and professional development has instilled in me a sense of diligence, attention to detail and preparation.”
Bradley explained that the camp development process exposes bobsledders to Lake Placid conditions by starting runs in the middle of the track to maintain a lower speed and practicing sled maneuverability. He concluded that the bobsledders eventually make their way to the top of the mountain.
“I love the technical way the mechanics work in the sled,” Emily said. With just five days of training and 15 races added to her name, she became the youngest athlete to race down the 20 challenging turns of the combined Lake Placid track.
When she broke the 21-year-old record as the youngest bobsleigh rider to slide down the track, set by American bobsledder John Napier, he was there at the end of the track to cheer her on as she beat his record. Emily received a gold medal for her accomplishments.
Napier and Emily’s father have been friends since their pre-teens and were professional competitors in the sport.
This summer, Emily will devote her time to speed and strength training. Its goal is to build endurance to go faster up the track to increase speed and distance down the track. She said she plans to start a weightlifting program to help her strengthen particular muscle groups she needs to help improve her initial burst.
In addition to working out, Emily revealed she wore a chain necklace her dad gave her that he wore when he was a bobsledder. It’s her personal lucky charm, she added.
The Bradley family looks forward to the exciting youth circuit and is focused on the best racing opportunities ahead in North America and Europe.
Emily is extremely focused on competing in the Youth Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2024 and competing in the Winter Olympics to be held in Milan Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026. when she turns 18.
“I’m confident that Emily is on the right track to tick all the right boxes, stay resilient and bounce back no matter what curves she has to navigate,” Bradley said.