Herriman local headed to the Winter OlympicsFeb 02, 2022 12:22PM ● By Justin Adams
Herriman native Kaysha Love (left) is going to the Olympics to compete in the two-woman bobsled event. This winter she competed in the annual World Cup competition in Europe, during which she and her teammate Kaillie Humphries (right) took first place in one of the races. (Photo courtesy of Viesturs Lacis | IBSF)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
For the second time in six months, a Herriman native is headed to the Olympic games. What’s even more amazing is the journey she’s taken to get there.
Growing up in Herriman, Kaysha Love was a talented and passionate gymnast. She competed just up the road at Olympus Gymnastics in South Jordan. Eventually though, the sport began to take a toll on her. She was putting in 30 hours a week. She didn’t have much of a social life. Injuries began to mount. So as she entered high school, she made the decision to pivot to track and field.
It turned out to be a great decision. In just her second race, she broke a state record.
“That’s when I realized that track could pay for my school,” she said.
Love would go on to win state titles in the 100 and 200 meter races… as a freshman. Her 100 meter record still stands to this day.
Love is quick to credit her track and field coach for her success.
“I had a fantastic track and field coach. He was one of the best high school coaches in Utah,” she said.
Her high school success led to a scholarship offer from UNLV, where she competed until graduating last year.
During Love’s junior year, her coach began working with a runner who also competed in the skeleton race. He began doing some research into what it takes to compete in the skeleton and bobsled competitions.
“He came to me and said it could be a successful sport for me after college,” Love said. “You need to be fast, powerful and explosive.”
At first, she was a little apprehensive.
“I had to remind him, I’m from Utah but I left Utah to get away from the winter and the cold and now you want me to do a winter sport?”
But, perhaps remembering all the good that had come from her making a jump from gymnastics to track as a high schooler, she decided to give it a go.
In October of 2020, she was invited to a rookie mini-camp hosted by the USA bobsled team at Lake Placid, New York. The event provided a handful of athletes with an introduction to the sport, and a chance to prove their potential with a competition. Love took first place in that competition.
“The coaches were pretty excited about my potential in the sport,” she recalled.
However, Love was still in the midst of her senior season at UNLV at that point. She returned and raced track from January to June of last year. After a two week break, she went back to Lake Placid where she competed for, and won, a spot on the US national team.
That punched a ticket to Europe, where for the past couple months Love and her teammates have competed in the Bobsleigh World Cup. It was Love’s first time traveling outside the country.
“The culture difference was incredible - to see a different part of the world. The way Europeans live life was just fascinating and incredible,” she said.
It was also an extremely successful trip for Love and Team USA.
In Altenberg, Germany, Love and her teammate Kaillie Humphries took first place. In other races, Love was paired with Elana Meyers Taylor, who ended up winning the gold medal based on her cumulative scores throughout the competition.
In the two-person bobsled competition, one person is in charge of’ “driving” the sled. They’re referred to as a pilot. The second person, seated in back, is called the “brakesman.” With Love being so new to the sport, she falls into the second category. Most of the pilots have been competing for years. About 90% of them started out as brakesmen though, before eventually jumping into the pilot’s seat; something that Love hopes to do herself someday.
“That’s something I’m very interested in,” she said. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t give it a try.”
Given her track record of stepping out of her comfort zone to try new things, that wouldn’t come as any surprise.
Love found out that she had officially made the US Olympic team the second week of January, just weeks before the competition was set to begin in Beijing ,China. She found out on a Zoom call while sitting in a hotel room.
“It was incredible. It was a very surreal feeling. I just burst into tears,” she said.
Love said she’s excited to see yet another part of the world, as well as to represent her country on the biggest stage in sports.
The two-woman bobsled event is scheduled to take place on Feb. 18-20. With strong pilots like Humphries and Meyers Taylor, there’s a good chance that Love could end up on the podium. (The team hasn’t yet decided which brakesman will be paired with which pilot).
No matter who she’s paired with or how she does, Love knows her family and friends from Herriman will be proudly cheering her on from a watch party at their home.