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Bobsled a weighty matter for Lolo Jones

PARK CITY, Utah -- When hurdler Lolo Jones decided to try switching seasons and attempt to make the U.S. Olympic bobsled team for the Sochi Olympics, she expected to experience thrills as she hurtled down icy tracks around the world.

She didn’t expect that temporarily switching sports would also give her the freedom to eat — a lot.

Jones, who was fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at the London Summer Games, normally weighs about 130 pounds when she’s training for track.

To be an effective brakeman with Jazmine Fenlator, Jones was told she’d have to gain weight and abandon her track-focused diet, the better to bulk up and give her mass to push the sled to a good start.

“I think it’s good to have a change. In my 13 years as a pro in track there would be times I’d feel like if I had a bit of a candy bar I’d feel like my career would be over,” Jones said during the U.S. Olympic media summit. “So to have the floodgates open, so where you can just eat anything, this is going to be awesome. And it totally is for a week and a half and then your body is like, ‘Wait, what are you doing to me? I’m not used to this.’ ”

She went on a 9,000-calories-a-day diet, which included weight-gaining shakes she supplemented with half a cup of whipping cream. The total per shake: 1,365 calories. And she’d have three of those per day. And a double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a drink.

“That’s like 2,000 calories,” she said. “For breakfast I’d have eggs, pancakes, and for lunch a sandwich or pizza. Every day would change. With track it was specific meals and I could tell you exactly what I’ve had for the last 13 years, but bobsled it was literally whatever you craved and a lot of it.

“I’ve had a lot of fast food the last three months.”

The result has been a 30-pound weight gain, to around 160 pounds. She said she was told that her ideal weight would be about 162.

Jones also said she still has the tight abs she had while in track shape, but she has lost some flexibility and will have to regain that when she returns to the track. She said she has tried to do yoga to keep that flexibility but simply doesn’t have the time because bobsled is so demanding.

The World Cup season will start in late November.

“You have two hours prepping a sled, it’s cold, and the last thing you want to do is another workout after you’ve already done like a nine-hour day,” she said. “It’s hard to keep that flexibility.”

But on the whole, she’s enjoying her bobsled experience, though she said she still feels terrified when she starts down the track.

“You never get over it,” she said, smiling. “There’s a few tracks that are smoother than others. Park City’s track is actually quite smooth. St. Moritz is a nice one. The Sochi one isn’t a bad one, depending on how the ice is prepared. But the other ones, Lake Placid, they call it the baby shaker for a reason. But there are just some tracks that are rougher on your body than others.

“That’s kind of the excitement. You know you’ve really achieved something when you go down. It’s one of the top 100 things to do on a bucket list, to go on a bobsled before you die. So I can definitely see it.”

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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