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

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Israeli Bobsled Team Ranks Among the Elite in America’s Cup Race

Calgary, Canada

Poised for an unprecedented inaugural season, the Israeli Bobsled Team is in third place after racing in the America’s Cup in Calgary, Canada, last week

Pilot Aaron Zeff and Brakeman John Frank took a fifth and sixth place finish in the 12-team Calgary races, and cracked the 57-second barrier with a 56.53-second down time. This record catapults them into the top teams on the racing circuit.

With one race to go, the Israelis are currently ranked third, with 56 points, in the cumulative standings for this year’s America’s Cup, comprising 14 teams.

“Were less concerned with rankings and more concerned with building upon our successes,” Zeff said. “Our goal is to continue to improve ourselves race after race and to complete the first season in the top 5 of the field.”

The Israelis proved they were a team to be reckoned with in Park City, Utah, last month. In their first complete international competition, they toppled experience teams that competed in the last two Winter Olympic Games.

The Americas Cup Races included 5 Canadian teams, 2 USA teams, 2 Mexican teams, and one from Armenia, Slovakia, Greece, New Zealand, and Israel.

The America’s Cup racing series concludes in Lake Placid, New York, in January.

Race photos and results available at www.israelibobsled.com.

Monday, December 1, 2003

Israeli Bobsled Team No Joke!

Archived from Winnipeg Free Press

Hurtling down an ice-covered track at 100 km-h in a bobsled is a thrill.

Doing it for Israel at the Winter Olympics in Italy in 2006 - well, that's something else.

But that's the dream of Winnipeger David Greaves who, along with his two American teammates, is inching closer to that goal.

"It's pretty exhilarating," said Greaves.

Last month., their two-man bobsled completed a dozen runs at the Olympic training facility in Calgary.

They're hoping to eventually crack the top 30 in the world, which would help secure their Olympic bid.

But the sport takes a back seat to their feelings for Israel.

"It's more about our love for Israel and support of Israel," said Greaves, 36.

Greaves' partners are Aaron Zeff, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force, and John Frank, who collected a couple of Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers as a tight end.

The three men are in the process of getting their Israeli citizenships.

Frank and Zeff, who both live in San Francisco, had been talking for the last couple of years of competing in the bobsled for Israel

They were able to convince the Israeli Olympic Committee to create the Israeli Bobsled Federation.

Greaves became involved after an injury temporarily sidelined Zeff.

He took his first run in Calgary last December.

Israeli Bobsled Team Impresses in Canada

Archived from The Jerusalem Post

With Aaron Zeff at the helm and John Frank acting as pusher and brakeman, the Israeli bobsled team managed surprising fifth and sixth place finishes, in a twelve-team field, in two races at the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Toboganning America's Cup in Calgary, Canada, over the weekend.  By cracking the 57-second barrier, they recorded a time that would place them in the top ten in the world.

In their second FIBT America's Cup race of the season, the Israeli bobsled team, comprised of Zeff and Frank (both from San Francisco, with dual Israeli-American citizenship), David Greaves, the alternate brakeman on the two-man racing team; and coach Ross Dominikovich, former captain of the New Zealand bobsled team, clearly demonstrated that it is among the world's elite.

In last week's event in Park City, Utah, which was their first complete international tourney as they competed in one America's Cup race last year but crashed out, the Israeli team managed to come in sixth out of eight teams, and beat a team from Greece that had participated in the last two Olympics.

The Israelis are currently third, with 56 points, in the cumulative standings for this year's America's Cup, comprising 14 teams.

In all, there were five teams from Canada taking part, three American squads, two from Mexico, and one each from Armenia, Slovakia, Greece, and Israel.

David Greaves, from Winnipeg in Canada and holding dual Israeli-Canadian citizenship and who took part in the first race of the season, told The Jerusalem Post, "I was honored to brake for Aaron [Zeff] in Israel's first race and to be crew support for our fifth-place, medal-winning event the next day.  I think we shocked almost every nation there (except ourselves) and garnered some great respect for both our team and our coach.  I should also say that this is as much about the sport as it is for us to reach out to the communities we train in and compete in."

They are hoping to eventually crack the top 30, which would help them secure a bid to the next Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Cool Runnings - With Chutzpa

Archived from My Winnipeg Life, Fall 2003

Remember those lovable Jamaican bobsledders who bumbled their way through the Olympics a few years back?  Hollywood even made a movie about them.

Well, Winnipegger David Greaves is one of the players in a similar plot.

Call this one, Cool Runnings - With Chutzpa.

Greaves, 36, is part of the first Israeli bobsled team.  Compared to their Jamaican counterparts, though, Team Israel takes its sledding very seriously, and plans to compete - all the way to the 2006 Olympic Games.

"If Israel thinks this is a novelty act, they won't send us," Greaves says.  "We're not going to be laughingstocks."

Greaves and his two Jewish teammates have already enlisted the help of the Israeli government, which has created a bobsled federation.  They've also done all the legal work necessary to gain their citizenship, work which included a two-week trip to Israel in the spring.

And they've raised some $50,000 US toward their first season of competition, which gets underway in November.

Credit Greaves' teammates, a former American fighter pilot and a retired pro football player, both from San Francisco, with that last one.

Aaron Zeff, the pilot, is basically a friend of a friend, and the guy who first hatched the idea.  He recruited his buddy, former San Francisco 49ers tight end John Frank, and the two wound up training in Calgary.

When Zeff went down with an injury, Team Israel needed a third man.

"A Jewish guy in Calgary, essentially, is what they were looking for," Greaves says. "I happened to be in Calgary, happened to be Jewish... and they gave me a call."

The next thing he knew, he was in a sled, hurtling down the ice at 100 kilometres an hour.

"It's a terrifying experience doing it the first couple of times," Greaves recalls. "You're sliding out of control, you don't know when this thing's going to stop."

Even when he didn't crash, the G-force was almost too much for him.

"It's like five guys sitting on your back," he says. "You can't breathe, your eyes are popping out of your head.

"To be honest with you, I have no desire to pilot that thing. I'm happy to be sitting back with my head between my legs and having no view of what's coming up in front of me."

A sprinter in high school, Greaves' job with the sled is to power it to a quick start, sit tight through the wild ride, then hit the brakes at the end. He recently began a rigorous weight program designed to build up his strength.

Team Israel needs to bulk up financially, too.

Greaves and Co. will compete in six races on the America's Cup, the sport's entry-level circuit, including three events in Europe. That could cost as much as $85,000 US. Eventually, they'll need to compete on the elite World Cup circuit in order to nail down the Top-30 world ranking needed to qualify for the Olympics.

Earlier this summer, Zeff and Frank staged a fundraiser in San Francisco, bringing in around $50,000.

Now it's Greaves' turn.

With the help of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. he's holding a benefit concert on Sept. 25 at the Delta Hotel, featuring his brother's group, The Watchmen. He'll also solicit donations at a swanky, one-hour, pre-concert presentation, featuring a five-minute DVD presentation telling the story of Team Israel.

The video contains footage of the athletes' trip to their homeland, where Greaves found himself signing autographs for adoring Israeli youngsters. Giving an Israeli kid something to cheer for, Greaves says, is what this is all about.

"In three years, he's going to see us in the Olympics," Greaves says. "And he's going to remember seeing me talking to him in broken Hebrew and letting him push our training sled.

"It's a unique opportunity to support and represent Israel in a positive light. And it's a great privilege."

For more information on the bobsled team, check out its website at www.israelibobsled.com.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Canadian MP Anita Neville on Winter Sports

Mr. Speaker, inspired by a love of winter sports, an appetite for international competition, a pride in community and a commitment to the state of Israel, many Winnipeggers gathered at a hall in Winnipeg on Thursday, September 25, in support of the Israeli bobsled team; certainly not the first thing one thinks of when one thinks of Israel.

For the first time in history Israel has such a team, sanctioned by the Israeli Olympic committee and the Federation of International Bobsled and Tobogganing.

It is a team composed of two Americans, John Frank and Aaron Zeff, and one Canadian, David Greaves of Winnipeg. All three have dual Israeli citizenship. They are coached by the former captain of the New Zealand bobsled team, Ross Dominikovich. It is truly a global partnership.

The team is now focusing on next season's world cup, with the ultimate goal to be selected to represent Israel and compete among the elite teams of the world at the 2006 Olympics.

The team will showcase new options for the youth of Israel. It hopes, in the manner of the Olympic tradition, “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport”.

This is indeed a story of hope and inspiration for a beleaguered country. We offer our best wishes to these ambitious and purposeful pioneers.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Zionism Through Bobsledding

By Joe Eskenazi - Retrieved from http://www.israel21c.org/people/zionism-through-bobsledding

At the Alberta Cup Championship in February, the Israelis took on Armenians, Brazilians and a Canadian team that competed in the 2002 Olympics. Zeff and Frank finished second in one heat, and won the other. As Aaron Zeff bumped and skidded along the icy, frozen track at 90 mph, breaking his back in the process, a thought jolted through his head: "This is the sport for me."

"If you talk to a Jewish mother, she'll say I broke my back. But if you talk to a physician, they'll say I had a compression fracture of my T3 vertebrae, it'll heal in a couple of months and I'll be a little shorter, but it's just as good," says Zeff, 34, of last year's accident.

"Now I'm one-sixteenth of an inch shorter. But I don't qualify as a short, balding Jewish guy just yet."

He does qualify, however, as the pilot and co-founder of the Israeli bobsled team - yes, you read that right, the Israeli bobsled team. And don't even think about bringing up the Jamaican bobsled team, mon. The Israeli bobsledders have heard that one about a million times, and they've had enough. They aren't growing dreads, and they don't intend to be loveable losers.

"No, we want to divorce ourselves from that. They didn't do that well; they went to the Olympics and crashed. We're interested in being really competitive. And I think we are," says Dr. John Frank, 41, the team's brakeman and the former tight end on the San Francisco 49ers glory teams. "We're aiming for a legacy. Something respectable so Israel will [always] have a bobsled team in the Olympics. And we should."

The San Francisco pair's fascination with bobsledding began like anyone else's - by watching the Olympics on TV. They were simply enthralled by the spectacle of a gaggle of space-suited sledders hustling into a futuristic-looking fiberglass vehicle and roaring down a track in which the amount of time it takes to snap your fingers separates first from the back of the pack.

And, in case you're wondering, they're not the first Jews to venture into bobsledding territory. French bobsledder Philippe de Rothschild was one of a number of Jews to boycott the 1936 Olympics.

Their dream began to take shape into a tangible reality a few years back, when Zeff persuaded his buddy, Frank, to divert a few hours from a Canadian ski trip to visit a bobsled track in Calgary. They met New Zealand-born coach Ross Dominikovich, who took one look at the pair and felt he had a couple of naturals. Zeff, who used to fly F-4 Phantom jets for the United States Air Force, possessed the reflexes and mindset to be a dominant bobsled pilot. And Frank, a burly former football star, was still blessed with the brute strength necessary to push the sled from a standstill and serve as its brakeman.

"We looked at each other and started laughing," recalls Frank, now a plastic surgeon. But they didn't dismiss the idea. The two began plotting out necessary time and money commitments, and Zeff trekked to Israel to try and convince the nation's Olympic establishment to let a pair of Californians represent the country in the sport. As Frank puts it, his partner had to "beg, borrow, and steal" in order to obtain Israel's blessing.

Working with the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, both tackled mounds of paperwork to become dual Israeli-American citizens, and have visited Israel numerous times. By winter of last year, Israel gave Zeff and Frank the green light, and the pair were in bobsled driver's school in Calgary.

For Zeff, grabbing the controls was not unlike his prior gig in the cockpit. He never crashed an F-4 Phantom, however. "You've been on roller coasters or on the centrifuge at the carnival when you're thrown up against the wall. If you can imagine, try driving something where you're thrown up against the wall and rattled, going through different lighting in and out of tunnels through the snow and wind," explains the real estate investor and parking lot owner.

"It's not unlike flying a jet at low altitude. You have almost no peripheral vision and you have to always be one turn ahead. If you try to make a correction on the turn you're on, it's too late." In always staying one step ahead, piloting a bobsled is "like playing pool - but you're going 90 miles per hour, it's freezing and snowing, and the guy behind you is digging his spikes into your back."

Yes, it's just like playing pool. Pool, meanwhile, is not an Olympic sport, and bobsledding is getting to be more and more of a selective one. Largely due to the celebrity achieved by the Jamaican bobsled squad, a number of countries in which the sight of snow would be front-page news have unfurled bobsled teams.

Bobsledding's governing body has responded by making the Olympics a more exclusive club than ever before. In order to compete in 2006, teams are now required to have been competing for at least four years. And while 45 teams traveled to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics, only 28 will be invited to Turin, Italy, in 2006, with up to two teams per country. Even though the top five bobsled nations will easily grab the first 10 slots, Zeff and Frank are confident they can crack the top 28. Frank refers to the task as "eminently doable."

When they're not training with Dominikovich in Calgary for several weeks at a time, both Zeff and Frank work themselves into game shape at local gyms. Frank, for his part, has bulked back up to his football weight of 225 pounds, after slimming down to "doctor weight" of around 200 or so pounds after he retired in 1989. The question is, how well do the pair need to do for Israel to consent to send them? Israel's Olympic governing board has been vague and noncommittal on the issue, using terms such as "contending" and "competitive" as qualifiers.

"We're coming into the sport ranked 41st, so it's unrealistic that we could vie for gold, silver or bronze. But we could put together a squad that'll be in the top 50 percent of the sport by the Olympics," says Zeff, who stands a stocky but athletic 5-foot-10 and weighs around 215 pounds. In other words, nudging the Americans, Germans or Italians off the medal platform is a little much to ask. Racing well, finishing respectably, and establishing a tradition for the future is not.

In fact, at the Alberta Cup Championship in February, the Israelis took on Armenians, Brazilians and a Canadian team that competed in the 2002 Olympics. Zeff and Frank finished second in one heat, and won the other.

And, in a time when most organizations are downsizing, the two-man Israeli bobsled team has already lined up an alternate, Canadian-born David Greaves, and are looking to add another. Think you could fit the bill? Zeff and Frank are looking for a man who: Weighs at least 225 pounds, can sprint 30 meters in 4.1 seconds or less, can bench press 300 pounds and squat 450 pounds, and is an Israeli citizen or willing to become one. If you qualify, feel free to drop Zeff a line at www.israelibobsled.com.

On travels across North America and Israel, Zeff's head has already been turned by football player-types, and more than a few have expressed interest in training to be the next generation of Israeli bobsledders. But in addition to time, it will take money to get Israel into the Olympics and keep it there. Zeff estimates $500,000 will be needed over the next five years, but he covered one-fifth of that with a June fund-raiser.

Next up for Zeff and Frank: More training, and upgrading from their rented sled to one of their own. "We still need a brand-new bobsled to be competitive," says Frank. "It'll cost about $40,000. It's like buying a Lexus."

The Star of David emblazoned on the nose of the Israeli bobsled ensures that a good portion of the questions directed at its drivers are political. What do bobsledders think about the "road map"? What do bobsledders think about the settlements? The occupation?

For Frank, those questions miss the point. He isn't racing for settlers or left-wingers or Likud or Labor. He's racing for Israel. "This is something that is just positive for everyone. It's gratifying to contribute without alienating anybody," he says.

"The only thing that's exploding here is the sled coming out of the starting blocks. The only thing that's breaking are records."

Friday, August 22, 2003

Watchmen to Play Benefit Concert for Israeli Bobsled Team


Winnipeg’s own The Watchmen will play a benefit concert to help raise money for the Israeli Bobsled Team (IBT). The event will take place on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003 at the Delta Hotel Winnipeg. A sell-out crowd of 700 is expected, and only limited seating remains. Up and coming Winnipeg band Tele will open the show.
“This concert will be a real be a treat for fans who’d like an opportunity to see the band in an up close and personal environment,” says Winnipeg-based IBT member David Greaves, whose brother (Daniel) is lead singer of The Watchmen.

In addition to Greaves, the IBT consists of San Francisco’s Aaron Zeff, who is a former US Air Force Top Gun fighter pilot, and John Frank, a former tight end and two-time Super Bowl champion with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. All three now hold dual citizenship with Israel.

The Israeli Bobsled Team is set to embark on its second season, and The Watchmen benefit concert will go a long way towards funding the team’s efforts. IBT members are currently raising money to purchase their first bobsled and to cover travel expenses for international competition. Their ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

“The Israeli Bobsled Team is incredibly thankful that The Watchmen have given their time to play this event,” says David Greaves. “We’re confident that it will be a huge success.”

The concert is being presented in association with the Young Adult Division (YAD) of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Tickets are $60 each and will be available at the Federation office in Winnipeg, the Rady Jewish Community Center, and the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg. Tax deductible donations to the IBT may be made by contacting the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg or by visiting the team’s website at www.israelibobsled.com.

# # #

David Greaves - Israeli Bobsled Team 204.470.4343
Judi Price Rosen - YAD, Jewish Fed. of Wpg. 204.477.7407
Shelley Stertz (The Watchmen) - The Management Trust 416.979.7070


Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Former San Francisco 49er and Former U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot Join to Compete as First Ever Israeli Bobsled Team

SAN FRANCISCO --June 25, 2003--
For the first time in history, Israel has a bobsled team. Two Americans, both with dual Israeli citizenship, have been sanctioned by the Israeli Olympic Committee (IOC) and accepted by the Federation International of Bobsled and Tobogganing (FIBT) to compete on behalf of Israel in two-man bobsled. Formed in 2001, the Israeli Bobsled Team (IBT) recently completed its inaugural season, much of which was spent at the Calgary Olympic Park in Alberta, Canada.

Ex-San Francisco 49er turned M.D., John Frank, 40, and business executive Aaron Zeff, 34, are residents of San Francisco. The team is now focusing on next season's World Cup. Zeff said the ultimate goal is to be selected to compete among the most elite teams in the world, representing Israel, at the 2006 Olympics.

"When you think of Israel, bobsledding is not the first thing that comes to mind," said Zeff, driver/pilot for IBT, "but we're proud to be a part of history in the making.

"We both love action, speed, winter sports and Israel... it was natural for us to be drawn to bobsledding. And our respective strengths in hand-eye coordination and power are a perfect combination for us to be competitive at this sport."

Zeff is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. Frank, the team's brakeman, started at tight end on two world champion 49er teams and was an all-Madden selection in 1989 for his unyielding and relentless competitiveness on the playing field.

According to Zeff, the IBT already cracked the 60-second ceiling, beating seasoned teams, even one that competed in the 2002 Olympics.
"We're serious athletes with a purpose and ambition," Zeff said. "Our backgrounds should communicate that we're clearly dedicated enough to develop a world class bobsled team for one of the newest nations on the Olympic circuit."

Coached by the former captain of the New Zealand bobsled team, Ross Dominikovich, IBT has, thus far, covered its own costs but is now raising funds to secure the additional money needed for the training and equipment to compete in the world arena. Zeff estimated the IBT would require at least $400,000 in additional funding.

For more information on the Israeli Bobsled Team or to inquire about sponsorship, log onto www.israelibobsled.com.

CONTACT: Sarah Owens

Friday, March 14, 2003

New Bobsled Team for Israel

Archived from JewishSports.com, March 14, 2003

One Canadian and two Americans have established a two-man bobsled team that they hope will compete for Israel in the next winter Olympics.  David Greaves of Winnipeg, and Aaron Zeff and John Frank, both of San Francisco, have received authorization from the Israeli Olympic Committee.  All three have applied for Israeli citizenship.  Their newly formed Israeli Bobsled Federation has invented a new Hebrew word for bobsled, "mizchelete bob," based on the Hebrew word for sled, mizchelet.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Canadian Pushing for Israel's First Bobsled Team

Archived from National Post (Canada), February 22, 2003 - By Les Perreaux

David Greaves was ready to sprint down the bobsled track at Calgary's Olympic Park when the announcement on the public address system sent a chill down his spine: "The track is clear for Israel One."

Moments later, Mr. Greaves and his driver, Aaron Zeff, were hunched in a sled tearing down the icy run at 120 km/h.  Near the bottom, Mr. Greaves broke into joyful hysterics, pounding on his driver's helmet.  Israel One had completed its first successful run, one small step toward becoming the first Israeli team to qualify in bobsled for the winter Olympics.

"It was my proudest moment.  I'm sure people could see the grin through my helmet.  It was so exhilarating coming down; it felt like my eyeballs might pop out of my head," said Mr. Greaves, 35.

Mr. Greaves, a Winnipegger, has joined forces with Mr. Zeff, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, and John Frank, a former Super Bowl champion tight end, to create their two-man bobsled team.

The men hope their ambitious entry into winter sport will cheer the people of Israel, a country where snow is rare and the newly formed Israeli Bobsled Federation was forced to invent a Hebrew word for bobsled: "mizhelet bob."

"Israelis have so little to cheer about lately.  As a Jew outside of Israel, there is little you can do but send money.  This is a different way to contribute," Mr. Greaves said.

The notion of an Israeli bobsled recalls the Jamaican bobsled team at the Calgary Olympics in 1988, who sold T-shirts to finance their Olympic aspirations but crashed in the third run of the four-man event.  However, the Israeli team claims it will be a serious competitor out of the gate.

Ross Dominikovich, a respected bobsled coach in Calgary, has agreed to work with the team.  The former member of the New Zealand bobsled team is impressed so far by their commitment and their physical fitness.

"I'm interested in developing elite athletes, not novelty acts," Mr. Dominikovich said.  "Aaron is a natural driver; he's got the background.  Dave was a top sprinter and an excellent soccer player.  John has two Super Bowl rings.  When you have that base, you're 80% there.  Now I have to help them get the other 20% in technique and training methods."

Mr. Zeff and Mr. Frank are Jewish U.S. citizens who reside in San Francisco while Mr. Greaves is Canadian.  All three men are in the process of obtaining their Israeli citizenship.

Mr. Greaves works in computer networking; Mr. Zeff is in real estate; and Mr. Frank became a plastic surgeon after retiring from the San Francisco 49ers in 1988.

Mr. Zeff explained that bobsled combines his three greatest passions: speed, winter sport and Israel.  "It sounds funny, but bobsledding is the only thing that could possibly combine all of these three things," he said.

Mr. Zeff and Mr. Frank, both elite skiers, began batting around the idea of a bobsled team last year.  They brought their friend Mr. Greaves onto the team after each of them suffered injuries last year during the team's early training runs.

Last year, they received the approval of the Israeli Olympic Committee and the Winter Sports Federation of Israel to represent the country.

The team's first competition was the America's Cup in Calgary last autumn.  Mr. Zeff was out with a compression fracture in a vertebra that he suffered during training.  Mr. Greaves and Mr. Frank competed, but they spilled during their first run, damaging their rented sled.

Last week, the team travelled to Calgary to train at the Olympic park.

Mr. Zeff, the now-healthy driver, and brakeman Mr. Greaves powered the team down 12 successful runs during a local championship meet.  Each time they shaved seconds off the trip, achieving a minor landmark, reaching below 60 seconds on the Calgary track.  The Israeli team finished ahead of an experienced Armenian crew.

The Israeli bobsled team is still a long way from qualifying for the 2006 Olympics.  The team needs to buy a sled and runners, costing about $50,000.  They will have to meet qualifying standards, both for the international and Israeli ruling bodies.

However Mr. Dominikovich is confident the Israelis will advance far beyond simply qualifying, perhaps competing among the "best of the rest" for a finish among the top-25 in a field of 46.  "If the goal is to win a medal, there is no chance.  If the goal is to make the Olympics and do well, that is definitely doable," he said.

"My dream is to see that Star of David on the front of our own bobsled," Mr. Greaves said.