For more on the Frozen Chosen, please visit www.israelibobsled.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

IBSF Approved for 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Status

On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation cleared yet another hurdle in its quest for Sochi 2014. The Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, Inc. was officially approved for tax-exempt status by the US Internal Revenue Service as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

A copy of the approval letter is available for public inspection on our website at http://www.israelibobsled.com/media/irsletter.pdf.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

IBSF Announces #pushthesled Campaign!

The Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation is proud to announce the start of our #pushthesled campaign to raise funds for the 2012-2013 season!

Please visit our campaign site at http://www.indiegogo.com/bobskelyisrael/ to support the team, and be sure to use the hashtag #pushthesled on Twitter to help promote Brad's mission!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Skeleton Team Featured in Times of Israel's "Top Stories of 5772"

Skeleton athlete Bradley Chalupski was the top story on the Times of Israel's Top Stories of 5772 featurette today.  Where is he now? Living in Jerusalem, training for the upcoming season.


Monday, April 2, 2012

'Frozen chosen': U.Md. grad competes for Israel in skeleton

April 1, 2012 - Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-md-israeli-skeleton-athlete-20120401,0,7174564,full.story

By Candus Thomson

LAKE PLACID, N.Y — Just before he jumps on his skeleton sled for a wild, head-first ride down an icy, mile-long chute, Bradley Chalupski lowers his helmet visor, revealing a large Star of David.

Beneath the helmet is another layer: a yarmulke emblazoned with the logo of the University of Maryland.

In two years, Chalupski hopes, he will honor his sport and his Jewish heritage by participating in the Winter Olympics in Russia as the first ever member of Team Israel to race skeleton.

Chalupski wants to be the frozen chosen.

It's not a whim or a flight of fancy. The Maryland graduate doesn't want to be a novelty act, like Eddie the Eagle, Britain's death-defying ski jumper at the 1988 Olympics. Chalupski put a planned legal career on hold and now waits tables to make ends meet.

"I'm an American. I'm a boy from Jersey. But I'm super proud of what I'm doing," said Chalupski, 27. "Wearing the Star of David is a huge responsibility."

Skeleton sliders, as they are called, push their sleds — basically a fiberglass cookie sheet on runners — about 140 feet, gathering speed and then leap on for their run. They steer by shifting their body weight or by dragging their feet, which dangle off the back. The fastest time down Lake Placid's 19-curve track is 53.68 seconds.

Chalupski already has competed in two skeleton world championships and won an America's Cup medal — Israel's first. He is ranked 59th out of 118 this year and finished ninth during the final America's Cup races last weekend. His informal coach, Rebecca Sorensen, a former U.S. skeleton athlete, believes her pupil can finish the 2014 Olympics in the Top 20.

But now comes the hard part: finding the money to launch a campaign that will take him this fall and winter to the world-class competitions in Europe. For that, Chalupski will spend the summer speaking at synagogues and before Jewish community groups to explain his journey.

The presence of a lone Israeli slider has altered the sport's culture. The sound of a shofar horn mingles with the din of cowbells at the starting line, and race officials in Lake Placid — home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and a training site for many U.S. teams — had to order a white-and-blue Israeli flag for the ceremonial platforms.

Plunging 70 miles per hour down a track that drops 40 stories wasn't the path Chalupski had in mind in February 2006 as he sat alone in his Allegany Hall dorm room on the College Park campus, watching the Winter Games. Fluent in French, proficient in poker and a euphonium player in the Maryland marching band, he envisioned a career as a public servant in Washington.

All that changed when the skeleton competition came on the screen.

Chalupski recalled saying to himself: "That looks like so much fun. I bet I could totally do that."

A Google search located the website of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and instructions on how to apply. Chalupski filled out the paperwork and sent it in. He graduated with honors in the spring of 2006 and went to France to teach high school English.

Then, in November, an email arrived inviting him to attend skeleton tryouts.

With his mother's reluctant help — "she threw a tantrum," Chalupski said — he flew from Paris to Utah, where he performed well enough to receive an offer to join the U.S. skeleton development program.

Instead, he entered law school at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He tried to concentrate — but in the end succumbed to the lure of Lake Placid's sliding track. He began dividing his time between the Newark campus and the Adirondack Mountains.

Each winter, Chalupski improved just enough to stay on the team. For his final semester, he stacked all his courses on Mondays so he could spend the rest of the week training for his last big chance on the track: the selection races leading up to the U.S. team trials.

He didn't make it.

"I sold some equipment and was ready to move on," Chalupski says. "I was setting up the other side of my life."

Fate, in the form of Andy Teig, intervened. A paramedic in Lake Placid and a pillar of a local synagogue, Teig also is a retired Israeli bobsledder and CEO of the Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation. He had a proposition: "If you think that this is an easy ticket to the Olympics, get out of my face. If you're not serious about Israel, get out of my face. But if you're serious, maybe — maybe — we can talk."

Israel has participated in five Winter Olympics, the first in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. An attempt to qualify a bobsled filled with Jewish Americans and Canadians for the 2006 Games failed.

For more than two months, Chalupski agonized over Teig's offer, asking friends and relatives what he should do. He doesn't speak Hebrew and had never visited Israel. Having a Jewish mother and a Catholic father had created many happy holiday smorgasbords but no bedrock religious convictions.

"I had never given any thought to my Jewish heritage other than the fact that I considered myself Jewish," Chalupski said.

His girlfriend, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, crystallized the matter.

"You are Jewish and someone is asking you to represent your homeland in a way in which you are uniquely capable of doing," Chana Anolick recalled telling him. "You have a responsibility as a Jewish man to do this."

Chalupski laughed as the story was told. "No pressure," he said.

He laughed again when asked if his mother would be proud of him if he qualifies for the Olympics. "Only if I'm a lawyer who qualifies for the Olympics," he said.

He and Anolick took a "birthright trip" to Israel a year ago and hope to move there some day.

"I did actually wander in the desert and I thought about my ancestors," Chalupski said. "I felt a deep, emotional connection to the land."

Back in Lake Placid, looking at an empty bank account, Chalupski turned for help to a Maryland marching band colleague and fraternity brother, Philip Nathan.

Chalupski recruited Nathan, an accountant, to become the financial officer for the Israeli sledding federation. Nathan said he hopes to mount a fund-raising effort in the Jewish community for the $20,000 it will take to get Chalupski a better sled and send him on the full, eight-race World Cup series starting in the fall.

"We're a very lean organization and we do it without the support of the Israeli government," Nathan said."There's better places for Israel to spend its money right now."

The Israeli Olympic Committee, which gave its blessing to the 2006 bobsled team, has not yet signed off on Chalupski's bid. Like the cash-strapped committees in many small nations, the Israeli group insists that its athletes, even those who have qualified for the Winter Games, be among the world's best in their sport. That requirement prevented figure skater Tamar Katz, the three-time Israeli national champion, from competing in the last Olympics.

Given the dominance of Germans, Latvians and Canadians in skeleton, Chalupski will be hard-pressed to break into the Top 10. But he has time and a growing fan base. Ido Aharoni, Israel's consul general in New York, has posted best wishes to Chalupski on his Facebook page.

And there's Chalupski's talent.

"His knowledge is there. His experience is getting there. He's got what it takes," said Sorensen, a U.S. sliding coach who mentors athletes from smaller nations. "His passion and dedication to the sport oozes out of him. He just wants to go fast."

Even the reluctant Ilene Chalupski has come around to her son's sport.

"I'm proud of him even though I think he's a little crazy," she said. "I don't care which place he comes in. I just want him to stand up at the bottom with all the pieces intact."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

David Greaves Can’t Stop Sliding ... Up

By Scott Taylor - Retrieved from http://www.jewishpostandnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=603

David Greaves knew he’d already seen his best days in a bobsleigh. He knew it was time to go on and do something else and for the most part, he’s done just that.

But the 43-year-old Winnipegger, who is the Director of Development and Marketing for the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and an honored member of Manitoba’s Jewish Sports Wall of Fame, was drawn back into a sport that was once, and might still be, an oxymoron for most young Jewish kids – World Championship Bobsledding.

Greaves has only recently returned from Lake Placid, N.Y., where he was doing some schmoozing, watching Israel’s newest sliding athlete and, in a different sort of way, putting the old band back together.

David Greaves’ days as a world-class athlete may have passed him by, but his love for the sport that brought him to the world stage, has never waned.

“A couple of years ago we came across a skeleton athlete,” said Greaves, who is now the Secretary General of the Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

“At the end of 2010, Brad Chalupski was on the low end of the United States Development Team. There were about 15 people ahead of him. But he was from New Jersey and he was one of us, so we approached him and suggested he should slide for Israel.

 “Last year, he competed in the World Jr. Circuit and we’re hopeful that he will continue to improve and perhaps qualifies for the 2014 Olympics.”

These days, Greaves is a behind-the-scenes guy, but in Lake Placid last month, he admitted that all the memories that made him one of the most intriguing athletes ever produced in Manitoba, came flooding back.

At home in Winnipeg these days, David Greaves is a family man. His wife Tracy, a cantor at Etz Chayim Synagogue, and his two kids, daughter Nesya and son Aaron, merely watch bobsledding on TV, but 10 years ago, Greaves became a phenomenon. In fact, what Greaves and his teammates accomplished with the first Israeli Bobsled Team would probably have made for a great movie had Jon Turtletaub, John Candy and Doug E. Doug not made “Cool Runnings” first.

“This job that I have today with the Foundation allows me to stay involved in the sport,” Greaves said. “I’m six years removed from the sport as an athlete, but I can’t believe that as a Jew and a Zionist and a person who always wanted to do something for Israel, this role has been offered to me. Little did I know that the greatest thing I would do for Israel is ride in the back of a bobsled.”

The original Israeli Bobsled team was started by former United States Air Force Top Gun, Aaron Zeff, and former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman John Frank. Both lived in San Francisco and at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, came to believe that an Israeli bobsled team could train and eventually compete at the Olympic level.

Worlds IBSF_Feb_24._2012_for_website
Greaves, Director of Marketing Tamar Simon, and CFO Philip Nathan
While looking to fill out the team, Zeff was informed by his brother-in- law, former Winnipegger Rich Nairn who had moved on to become a front office executive with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, that a good Jewish athlete and close friend was, at the time, living in Calgary. Nairn felt Greaves might just make an excellent brakeman and suggested to Zeff that he give the Canadian a call.

“I got a call in 2002 from Aaron recruiting me,” Greaves recalled. “So I agreed to meet John and Aaron at the track in Calgary and the first question that everyone had was this: ‘Can these guys get the sled to the bottom of the hill?’”

After one frightening crash, they eventually did complete the course, and as a group, they trained, improved, got their Israeli citizenship papers and eventually formed the country’s first Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
So on a late December day in 2002, almost 10 months after the 2002 Salt lake Winter Olympics, Greaves heard the most gut-wrenching and yet heart-warming words he’d heard in his 33 years on the planet.

“I heard the public address system at Calgary’s Olympic Park say something that has been burned into my memory,” he said with a chuckle. “The track is clear for Israel 1.

Being on the international stage at that race made me realize that I was part of a global Jewish community. There I was, a proud Canadian, representing Jews everywhere with my teammates. The Jewish connection really hit home when one of my teammate’s urged me to say the Shema before we went hurtling down the track. I was in that moment of realization when I he was wearing the Magen David and suddenly representing the Jewish homeland and the Jewish people in international sport.”

Amazingly, it got even better.

In two years, this small band of Jewish jocks had become a well-oiled machine, good enough to qualify for the 2004 World Championships.

“That was the year the World Championships were held in Konigsee, Germany,” Greaves recalled. “Our goal, from the day we started to put the team together, was to qualify for the Olympics in Torino, but getting to the world championships in Germany, representing Israel, was something I’ll never forget.”

Even for Greaves, the scene was surreal. After all, the team was competing in the Bavarian countryside at the base of a hill upon which sat the Eagle’s Nest, a chateau that was used as a retreat by Adolph Hitler.

In front of a German crowd of more than 10,000, a crowd that cheered wildly for a team from Israel as it entered a huge auditorium for the Opening Ceremonies escorted by a German child carrying the Israeli flag while a German orchestra played Hatikvah.

“I got chills,” Greaves said. “It was a powerful moment in my life, both as an athlete and as a Jew. I was in tears, and it solidified my desire to engage in Jewish community life. I went home and told my wife that I was going to quit my job and volunteer to work in the Jewish community. To be in Germany, having German fans cheer for us with a German band playing Hatikvah in the shadow of the Eagle’s Nest was a defining moment in my life as a human being, as a Jew and as a Zionist.”

Greaves’ team never did qualify for Torino, but the experiences they enjoyed together left an indelible legacy that is still very much alive today.

And it’s still alive because David Greaves was able to make the transition from athlete to head of the federation that he was instrumental in creating.

“I’m so grateful for what the sport did for me as an athlete and in lighting that Jewish flame for me,” he said. “We have a couple of very impressive athletes in our stable now and I don’t think we’re too far away from having serious Olympic medal contenders representing Israel.

“If I’ve learned anything it’s this: Every athlete from every country at the Olympics or World Championship has pride in his country, his flag and his team. But a Jewish athlete is different. His country is not just a country, but a people. And when you represent the Magen David in an international event everyone is watching you. Everyone has an opinion – good or bad – about Israel, based upon what they’ve seen in the media. But from what I experienced, no matter the country, athletes from around the world, when they see a Jewish athlete step on the field or the ice, they will cheer. That’s the power of the Magen David and it’s what solidifies the nation of Israel.

“My point is this: We all have a Jewish spark, a pilot light if you will. As Jews, we are obligated to find what it takes to turn that spark into a flame that helps us live meaningful, happy lives in our communities. Powerful moments and deep experiences await us all. Eight years ago in February, I had one of those deep, powerful experiences.”

It was an epiphany for Greaves, a experience that gave his life clarity and an experience will resonate with him for as long as he lives.

Life In the Fast Lane: David Greaves and Team Aiming to Field Israeli Bobsled Athletes at Olympics 2014

By Rhonda Spivak - Retrieved from http://www.winnipegjewishreview.com/article_detail.cfm?id=2173&sec=2&title=LIFE_IN_THE_FAST_LANE:_DAVID_GREAVES_AND_TEAM_AIMING_TO_FIELD_ISRAELI_BOBSLED_ATHLETES_AT_OLYMPICS_2014

David Greaves slipped out of his day job as director of development and marketing at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba about 10 days ago and went off to Lake Placid, NY in his role as chairman of the Israeli Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

At Lake Placid Greaves got to see Bradley Chalupski slide down the bobsled track as if he were on a “flying cookie sheet.” Chalupski finished 29th among the 31 racers in the skeleton world championships (skeleton is a sport that is virtually unknown in Israel just like Chapulski).

 Chalupski competed in the race as an athlete representing Israel, even though Chalupski is not technically Israeli (yet) and the Israeli Olympic Committee isn’t even aware of Chalupski’s existence (but we'll get into that in a moment.) 
"We were so proud to see the Israeli flag on the track" says Greaves.

Courtesy of Ken Childs, www.slidingonice.com
Chapulski, 25, a law school graduate from Marlboro, NJ, whose father is Catholic, visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright trip, after never having a bar-mitzvah and being raised in a secular home.
He plans on making aliya to Israel this spring with his girlfriend, Chana Anolick, whose parents already live in Kochav Yaakov, a settlement in the West Bank. Chalupski will then concentrate on improving his racing times to qualify for the 2014 Winter Games.

 The idea of making aliya in time to compete in bobsled races on behalf of the State of Israel isn't a foreign concept at all to Greaves. Greaves was a brakeman on the first ever Israeli bobsled team that came together in 2002, and "I made aliya to do it", he fondly recalls. 
Greaves joined that first team having never been on a bobsled before. "That didn't stop me then," he says, noting that his team ended up competing in two world championships before disbanding after coming short in qualifying for the Torino Olympics in 2006.

 "It was a life-changing event to represent Israel when we first pioneered a team, and now I hope we can set Chalupski on his way to making Israel proud to have him as their symbol on the international stage of skeleton racing," Greaves says.
“On the World Cup circuit we are considered a serious player and Bradley has become a part of the fabric of the Bobsled and Skeleton community. Upon seeing the Magen David on our team jackets, Jews seemed to come out of the forests and crowds to strike up a conversation with us. They told us how proud they felt when arriving at the Olympic complex and seeing the Israeli Flag among all the other nation’s flags. Skeleton can be a very lonely sport but it is moments like this that’s keep us motivated."

 Chapulski last year qualified for the world championships, which were held near the site of Adolf Hitler’s alpine retreat, Eagle’s Nest near Berchtesgaden, Germany. Greaves competed in Germany when he was part of the Israeli bobsled team in 2004.
"To think that over 65 years ago there were no Jews left in Germany, there was no State of Israel and no Israeli Olympic team. And then to be a Jew on an Israeli bobsled, emblazoned with the Star of David competing in Germany within view of, Hitler’s secret retreat, Eagle's Nest.

It was an unbelievable moment to be there to see the Israeli flag fly over German soil,” Greaves says.
“To see the Israeli flag flying with all the other nations’ flags, in the shadow of Eagle’s Nest was so emotional for all of us,” Greaves ads. "This journey wasn't just about sliding down a slope. We were ambassadors for Israel, the Jewish state."

 The Israeli Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, a not for profit corporation in the US, which Greaves chairs, is run out of North America and receives no funding from the Israeli government or Olympic Committee."So it's up to us to fundraise and make it happen for Chapulski and his team" Greaves explains. “He’s sliding for a nation of people all over the world: Am Yisrael.”
Courtesy of Ken Childs, www.slidingonice.com
The CEO of the Federation and Chapulski's coach-Andy Teig, a paramedic who lives in Lake Placid is a member of the original bobsled team Greaves was on.

 Chalupski started out racing in a US program, but after narrowly missing making the US national team trials in 2010, he was going to quit riding skeleton and work for a law firm in France.
But Teig raised the idea of Chalupski racing for Israel. This set off a process for Chapulski of contemplating his Jewish identity.

 " Chapulski's girlfriend whose father is an Orthodox rabbi suggested that he had an obligation to do this since he was being asked to represent Israel to the world in a way that only he is capable of doing currently," Greaves says.
Within ten weeks, Chalupski decided to move to Lake Placid to begin training full-time and find a way to cobble together the money necessary to compete around the world.

Chalupski's supporting team consists of Tieg, Greaves, Tamar Simon, a Manhattan marketing director and Philip Nathan, an accountant from Washington DC. "Every group needs an accountant," Greaves chuckles.
"We are all volunteers who have been working together for almost two years now but had never met in person until were in Lake Placid for the world championships." he says. “I consider all members of this team, dear friends and with the help of technology, our meeting in Lake Placid felt like the reunion of old friends.

“We’ve been getting a great response from so many people and organizations: Jewish communities everywhere are coming out to help. People have donated frequent flyer miles and the team stays at the homes of local Jews. We have received support through a Facebook page and a website.
Team, Executives, and Friends at World Championships.
We've also gotten practice time from the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, and a sponsorship from Mondetta, [clothing company], " Greaves notes. I’ve known Ash, Raj and Prashant (the Mondetta guys) for many years and they have really stepped up to the plate. Mondetta made an amazing commitment to us in custom designing our team winter wear. Up until then, we didn’t look much like a team.”
 There is also another hurdle on the horizon - which is to ensure that Israel will let Chalupski represent it at the Olympic competition, should he qualify to compete.
Greaves has an old letter from the Israeli Olympic Committee to the FIBT [Federation of International Bobsleigh and Skeleton] affirming the affiliation of what was then the newly created Israeli Bobsled Federation. But to represent Israel at the Olympics, athletes must meet several criteria, including competing in a sport that exists in Israel (which could well preclude Chalupski and all athletes from bobsled sports) 

 "We’re trying to build the best possible case for the Israeli Olympic Committee to want us to go and represent the State,” Greaves says. "We don't want it to be the case that Chalupski will qualify for the Olympics under international qualification standards but he won't be given the approval by Israel to go."
Chalupski ranked 68th in the world in men’s skeleton last year, and expects his ranking to be in the top 50 for 2012, which is s based on points an athlete receives for competing at events and based on his results. If he keeps advancing, it's likely he could qualify under a quota for warm-weather countries like Israel. Olympic qualifying competition begins in 2013.

Secretary-General David Greaves, Marketing Director Tamar Simon, CFO Philip Nathan
 Greaves says, "We want to raise enough money to buy Chalupski a new sled, which can cost $10,000. But it can make the difference in a race that can be won by a razor thin edge of split seconds."
Once Chalupski moves to Israel he's going to spend winters training on the bobsled tracks of Europe.
 "We're hopeful and extremely proud of Bradley, as should all Jews and sports enthusiast should be," says Greaves. "If we will it, it is no dream. We're also looking to recruit more skeleton and bobsled athletes."
Anyone who wishes to sponsor, support the team may contact Greaves at david@israelibobsled.com or email Philip Nathan at:nate@israelibobsled.com
For more information on the team, visit their website at: www.israelibobsled.com or follow them on twitter: @Melechdaveed @BradChalupski @TeamIsraelSkele

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Keeping Our Heads Above Water"

By Michael Ordman - Retrieved from http://blogs.jpost.com/content/keeping-our-heads-above-water


Accompanying the wonder of Israel’s snow and ice, it is appropriate that Israel’s star ice sportsperson Brad Chalupski launched Team Israel’s entry into the World Championship bobsleigh and skeleton competition at Lake Placid. He may have only achieved 29th place in the men’s skeleton, but Brad wore his newly-painted Magen David helmet proudly and was heralded on his first run by one of his fans with blasts on a shofar.


Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
To subscribe, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com