A Mercer University graduate student training to compete in the Winter Olympics is one step closer to that goal after being named to the USA Skeleton Development Team.

Austin Hayes, a graduate assistant cross-country/track and field coach, has been training for a spot on Team USA since March, when he decided to try out for the USA Bobsled team and the chance to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. His focus shifted to skeleton after he excelled at the sport during a rookie camp at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.

Skeleton, as described by the International Olympic Committee, involves “plummeting head-first down a steep and treacherous ice track on a tiny sled.” It’s one of the fastest Olympic events, with racers reaching speeds up to 80 mph, while lying prone on a steel sled and holding their heads just inches above the ice.

Hayes, who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in finance, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his training in the latest video in our Beyond the Bear series.

Beyond the Bear is a video series in which we talk to Mercer faculty and staff about their passions, hobbies and interests outside of work.


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