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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

On Skeleton, N.J.’s Bradley Chalupski Hopes to Sled for Israel at Olympics

By Uriel Heilman - Retrieved from http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/03/01/3091912/new-jersey-native-hopes-to-sled-for-israel-at-olympics

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (JTA) – Meet Bradley Chalupski, Israel’s best hope for a medal on the bobsled track at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

Chalupski is an unlikely Israeli athlete.

Photo: Ken Childs, www.slidingonice.com
For one thing he competes in skeleton, a sport that’s virtually unknown in Israel -- not to mention the rest of the world. For another, technically he's not Israeli.

His only visit to Israel came last year on a Birthright trip.

But come summer, the law school graduate from Marlboro, N.J., with a Catholic father is planning on making the move with his girlfriend, Chana Anolick, whose parents already live in Kochav Yaakov, a settlement in the West Bank. And Chalupski, 25, is hoping that he can improve his racing times to qualify for the 2014 Winter Games.

“Israel is allowing us in good faith to represent the good name of Israel to the world,” Chalupski told JTA. “We’re thankful that they’re letting us be out here.”

In skeleton, racers slide headfirst down icy bobsled tracks on steel-and-plastic sleds weighing 70 pounds without steering or breaking mechanisms at speeds reaching up to 80 mph. A single run takes about a minute, and races typically are won by several hundredths of a second. Aside from slight shifts in weight to help steer, the key factor in the race is the quality of one’s running start. Chalupski describes it as like riding a “flying cookie sheet.”

Last weekend, Chalupski finished 29th among the 31 racers in the skeleton world championships at Lake Placid, N.Y., the site of one of just two bobsled tracks in the United States (the other is in Park City, Utah). The fact that an athlete representing Israel had qualified at all had organizers scrambling before the competition to find an Israeli flag to post at the track. They eventually borrowed one from a nearby church when the flag they had ordered from a company in Arizona was late in coming.

“We’re legitimately competing; we’re not just showing up,” Chalupski said in an interview the night before the race.

Last year he also qualified for the world championships, which were held near Berchtesgaden, Germany, the site of Hitler’s alpine retreat, Eagle’s Nest. The symbolism of competing in the shadow of Hitler’s mountain estate wasn’t lost on Chalupski’s team.

“That’s when I realized that what we’re doing here is much more than just sliding on a track,” said David Greaves, chief fundraiser for the Israeli Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, which is run out of North America and receives no funding from the Israeli government or Olympic Committee. “The Israeli flag was flying on the track with all the other nations’ flags, and seeing Eagle’s Nest looking down on the track was emotional for all of us.”

Greaves, a Canadian whose day job is as director of development and marketing at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, was a brakeman on an Israeli bobsled team that came together in late 2002, competed in two world championships and disbanded after failing to qualify for the Torino Olympics in 2006. Another member of that team, Andy Teig, a paramedic who lives in Lake Placid, is Chalupski’s coach.

Chalupski didn’t start out racing for Israel. He began in the U.S. program, cutting classes during law school at Seton Hall University to train at Lake Placid, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. But after falling just short of making the U.S. national team trials in 2010, Chalupski was set to quit riding skeleton and go work for a law firm in France.

Then he got call from Teig, who had one question: Was Chalupski interested in racing for Israel?

The thought had never occurred to Chalupski, who was raised in a thoroughly secular home, didn't have a bar mitzvah and had never given Israel -- or his Jewish identity -- much thought. He knew one thing: He didn’t want to switch flags simply to qualify more easily for races, he said.

As Chalupski began talking over the decision with family and friends, a journey of Jewish exploration began. “Responses ranged from people who said, ‘Why haven’t you said yes already?’ to people who said, ‘You’re not Israeli, you’ve never been there, you don’t speak Hebrew, why would you do that?’ ” Chalupski recalled.
But the responses of his Jewish friends stood out. “They all said, ‘You’re Jewish. Of course you can represent Israel.’ I honestly had never thought about it that way. And I began to start to ask myself what it means to be Jewish.”

The clincher came from his girlfriend, whose father is an Orthodox rabbi. “She expressed the sentiment that I had an obligation to do it because as a Jewish man, somebody was asking me to represent Israel to the world in a way only I currently am capable of doing,” he said.

After 10 weeks mulling over the decision, Chalupski put his law career on hold -- much to his mother’s chagrin -- and moved north to Lake Placid to begin training full-time. In the two years since he has enjoyed some triumphs -- Chalupski won a medal in a lower-circuit race -- and faced a host of challenges, from getting enough practice time to scraping together the money required to compete around the world.

For help, Chalupski and his support team have been relying on the goodwill of Jewish communities around the world. When Chalupski goes to competitions, he often flies on donated frequent flyer miles and stays at the homes of local Jews. He has received support through a Facebook page and website. His support team -- coach from Lake Placid, fundraiser from Manitoba, marketing director from Manhattan and accountant from Washington -- is made up of volunteers who had never met in person until last weekend’s world championships.

“No matter what country you’re from, when you see that Israeli guy at the start line, you’re cheering for him,” Greaves said. “He’s sliding for a nation of people all over the world: Am Yisrael.”

The team also has gotten help from the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, known as the FIBT; practice time courtesy of the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages Lake Placid’s facilities; and sponsorship from a Canadian clothing company, Mondetta.

From Israel, the team says it is thankful just for recognition: Several years ago, Greaves said, Israel formally affirmed to the FIBT that the team behind Chalupski represents the Jewish state. Greaves is listed as the contact for the Israeli team on the website of the FIBT. However, when contacted by JTA, Israeli Olympic Committee officials said they knew nothing about Chalupski or the Israeli bobsled team.

"We have no connection; if they represent Israel or not I have no idea," Efraim Zinger, secretary general of the Israeli Olympic Committee, told JTA.

But Zinger said the Israeli Olympic Committee does not oversee all athletes who represent Israel, just those in Olympic competition. To represent Israel at the Olympics, athletes must meet several criteria, including competing in a sport that exists in Israel. That would seem to preclude Chalupski -- or any sport involving a bobsled track.

Indeed, one of Chalupski's support team’s biggest concerns is that he will qualify for the Olympics but Israel will not give him the green light to go. “We’re trying to build the best possible case for the Israeli Olympic Committee to want to send us,” Greaves said.

At the end of last season, Chalupski ranked 68th in the world in men’s skeleton. This year he expects to advance to somewhere around 50th. Though he’s still far from Olympic medal contention, Chalupski is edging closer to the point where he could qualify under a quota for warm-weather countries like Israel. Olympic qualifying competition begins in 2013.

During the competition at Lake Placid, Chalupski wore a new helmet emblazoned with the Israeli flag. Under it he wore his secret weapon: a kipah with the logo of the University of Maryland, his alma mater, which he got on his Birthright trip.

Ultimately, however, Chalupski will need more than symbols to improve his racing times. His backers' hope is that they can raise enough money in the offseason to buy Chalupski a new sled, which can cost up to $10,000 but which could make the difference in races measured in split seconds. Once Chalupski moves to Israel -- he’s already done the aliyah paperwork -- he plans to spend winters training in Europe, which has several bobsled tracks.

Teig says he hopes Chapulski won’t be the only Israeli competitor on the track come 2014.

“We are recruiting for bobsled and skeleton athletes,” Teig said. “Give me a call. We’ll run you through the combine.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

World Championships Recap

Courtesy of Ken Childs, www.slidingonice.com
In front of friends, family, and the whole Israeli Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation crew, Brad Chalupski and Team Israel's inaugural World Cup season slid to an end Saturday night in Lake Placid.

Brad's three runs were good for a 29th place finish, and he matched his personal push record with a 5.10 start on his second heat.

His newly-painted Magen David helmet set him apart from the rest of the pack in the near-blizzard conditions, as did his raucous pack of fans (one of whom announced Brad's first run with a shofar).

If you missed the live broadcast, Brad's runs can be viewed through FIBT TV at http://eurovision.digotel.com/fibt/index.html

1st Run: ~ 1:10:30 into the video
2nd Run: ~ 58:30
3rd Run: ~ 59:30

Were you there at LP? Or were you cheering from the warmth of your own couch? Either way, send in your photos from the race to pbnskeleton@gmail.com.

Still can't get enough Israeli skeleton?  Head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobskelyisrael/sets to view pictures from Lake Placid and the rest of the season, or http://www.youtube.com/bobskelyisrael/ for videos.
Courtesy of Ken Childs, www.slidingonice.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Team Israel in FIBT World Championships - Watch Live Friday/Saturday

Fresh off our debut season on the FIBT World Cup circuit, Team Israel will compete in Lake Placid, NY at the FIBT World Championships this Friday and Saturday.  Be sure to tune in live to catch the action!

Internet stream is available at http://eurovision.digotel.com/fibt/index.html - TV feed available on Universal Sports.

Heats start at the times indicated below - all times Eastern.  Please note, Brad's start time will likely be 35-plus minutes after the start of each heat, but be sure to keep a close eye.  As the start orders are released, we'll post an approximate start time.

  • Heat 1 - Friday, Feb. 24 - 5:00pm
  • Heat 2 - Friday, Feb. 24 - 7:00pm
  • Heat 3 - Saturday, Feb. 25 - 5:00pm
  • Heat 4 - Saturday, Feb. 25 - 7:00pm
Don't miss a moment of the build-up to Worlds - follow Brad at @TeamIsraelSkele on Twitter right now!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Bare Bones of Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton

Retrieved from http://www.jpost.com/Sports/Article.aspx?id=258231

The United States' USA-1, piloted by Shauna Rohboc 
Photo: AP
The history of the Israeli Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation is fittingly similar to the history of the State of Israel.

It began as an unlikely dream, endured brushes with disaster, and made it to where it is today with the help of unlikely allies, and the sweat and tears of many inspired and relentless men and women.

It began with Aaron Zeff, a former F-4 Phantom Pilot in the United States Air Force, getting a rush of adrenaline (and perhaps nostalgia) watching the bobsled competition, in the 2002 Winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City. Zeff called his friend John Frank, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL.

“John, you need to listen to this,” Zeff yelled into his phone as a sled roared past. “That was a bobsled, and I think we need to try this.”

Within the next few months, the newly formed Israeli Bobsled Team had received the green light from the Israeli National Olympic Committee (NOC), to represent Israel in competition as a member nation of the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Toboggan (FIBT), the international body that governs the two Winter Olympic sports.

In the fall of 2002, Zeff and Frank crashed their sled countless times on the track at Calgary while participating in FIBT Driver School.

Worse still, the crashes took Zeff out of commission with a compression fracture in his spine, leaving Israel 1 without a driver.

Still defiant and persevering, Zeff called his friend David Greaves, a native of Winnipeg, and recruited him to serve as Frank’s brakeman.

With Frank piloting the sled for the first time, Israel 1 promptly crashed again.

Rattled but otherwise high on adrenaline, Greaves opted to hang around for Zeff to recover from his injuries.

Nearly two months later, Zeff’s doctors cleared him to get back behind the controls of Israel 1.

Under the coaching of New Zealander Ross Dominikovich, on those same treacherous curves of Calgary Olympic Park, Zeff and Greaves successfully completed one run and then many more runs. The two Israeli bobsledders logged 10 successful trips down the track that week, each night phoning Frank to share in their elation.

One year after that first phone call from Salt Lake City, Zeff, Frank and Greaves were making Aliyah in May of 2003.

Later that year in November, with Zeff and Greaves aboard, Israel 1 made its debut in the Americas Cup Race, in Park City, Utah.

Israel 1 competed all across North America that season, and coming into the final AC race in Lake Placid, was poised to qualify for World Championships.

Zeff arrived several days ahead of the others, and was hosted by Andy Teig, a local EMT who would later join the team as a Bobsledder. Living five minutes from the Lake Placid track, Teig volunteered to fill in as a brakeman for the training runs.

Even Lloyds of London wouldn’t have insured the Israel 1 sled that season, with the amount of abuse it withstood.

On the final day of training before the race, the dutiful sled finally snapped in half, leaving the team without a sled on the eve of the big race day.

“The Wolf”, as Teig was called, loaded up the mangled sled onto his truck, took it home, and welded all through the night. Israel 1 made it down the track twice the next day, placing fifth out of 19 teams and qualifying the team for World Championships, three weeks later in Königssee, Germany.

Since that inaugural season, the IBSF members have endured their fair share of bumps and crashes. But they have never looked back, and are still on that track towards making their Olympic debut.

In 2010 Bradley Chalupski joined the federation as the lone skeleton racer.

“I have known no greater honor in my life than representing Israel at the 2011 FIBT World Championships in Königssee, Germany.”

In December 2011, Chalupski earned Israel its first medal in skeleton at the America’s Cup in Lake Placid, NY and will be competing in the world championships later this month, also in Lake Placid.

“It’s an incredible honor to win a medal for an entire nation. I feel thankful, proud and amazing,” said Chalupski.

Greaves, now the Secretary- General of the IBSF, had this to say: “News of Bradley’s first medal and our Federation’s first ever skeleton medal will now sit alongside our bobsled medals and will help blaze a trail for other young athletes.

Bradley and Israel and all Jewish sports enthusiasts should be proud.”

“My goal is to represent Israel in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia,” exclaims Chalupski, with not even a hint of arrogance. “With a spot secured on the FIBT World Cup circuit, that goal is also squarely in my sights.”

For more information on the IBSF or Bradley Chalupski’s quest to qualify for the Olympics, please visit www.israelibobsled.com, email tamar@israelibobsled.com or follow on Twitter: @TeamIsraelSkele

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Israel's First Winter Olympic Medalist?

Retrieved from http://www.jpost.com/Sports/Article.aspx?id=257516

Fresh off his medal-winning performance at the Americas Cup in December he will represent Israel at the World Championships in February.

Bradley Chalupski 
Meet Bradley Chalupski, a native of New Jersey, currently living in Lake Placid, New York, where he trains full time as a Skeleton athlete for team Israel.

Chalupski visited the Holy Land for the first time in March 2011 on a Birthright trip and will be making Aliyah in May, when he will be moving to Haifa.

During his first full competitive season representing Israel in 2010/2011, Bradley earned a spot for the Israeli team in the top level WorldCup circuit.

Fresh off his medal-winning performance at the Americas Cup in December he will represent Israel at the World Championships in February. He has very realistic hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Sochi Games.

The Jerusalem Post will be following Bradley's quest to become this country's first Winter Olympic medalist.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chalupski Competes in World Cup Finale

Last night, Brad Chalupski competed for Team Israel in the final World Cup race of the season at Calgary Olympic Park.  This was Brad's second race competing on the World Cup circuit.  Although he finished in 27th place, Brad managed to shave a half second off his previous best time at Calgary.

Also noteworthy, video of Brad's two World Cup races are available through the FIBT's official video site.  FIBT streams live World Cup coverage through http://eurovision.digotel.com/fibt/index.html.

Whistler (More Channels -> World Cup 7 - Whistler) - Jump to ~ 55 minutes into Mens' Skeleton, Heat 1.

Calgary (More Channels -> World Cup 8 - Calgary) - Jump to ~ 1 hour, 1 minute into Mens' Skeleton, Heat 1.

(Sadly, video is not available in Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, France and Italy.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Official FIBT Preview of Calgary Race

Excerpted from http://www.fibt.com/index.php?id=88&newsId=3936&backUrl=index.php%253Fid%253Dhome

Bradley Chalupski (ISR) gave a double debut at the Viessmann FIBT World Cup in Whistler. The 27-year-old competed in the World Cup for the first time in his career, and was the first skeleton pilot from Israel ever to compete in the highest ranking tour of the FIBT season. Chalupski came to the sport of skeleton out of curiosity: “Honestly? I saw it on the television, watching the 2006 Olympics in Torino, and said to myself, ‘That looks like a ton of fun and I bet I could be good at that,’ said the athlete on the website of Seton Hall University in the US state of New Jersey before the Königssee World Championships last year. Bradley Chalupski is also the first skeleton slider from Israel to compete in a World Championships. (RWH)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

WORLD CLASS: Israel Debuts on FIBT World Cup Circuit

On Friday, February 3rd, skeleton athlete Bradley Chalupski proudly represented Israel at the FIBT World Cup race held at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Vancouver.  This was the same track made infamous by the death of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili in training runs for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In a field of 25 athletes, Bradley finished in 25th place with a time of 56.61 seconds, failing to qualify for a second run.  However, Brad's push time of 4.76 was good for a tie for 17th place in the first heat.  Giving a sense of how tightly packed the field was, 4 athletes were tied for 13th with a 4.75 start, and the 10th fastest push was a 4.73.  Bradley actually out-pushed German Alexander Kroeckel (4.77), who placed fourth overall.

"The track was fast and very difficult," said Chalupski, "but by the end of the race, I was doing better than I expected.  I was only two-tenths of a second behind the next guy ahead, and took a bad bump in the 16th turn, actually the worst I drove it out, including my training runs.  My sliding was actually too controlled [in the race], and that's given my confidence a huge boost."

Bradley looks to open it up a little more on his return to the track at Calgary in next week's World Cup race there, which will be the last stop before returning to Lake Placid for World Championships.

Official results can be found on the FIBT website:  http://www.fibt.com/index.php?id=526&tx_pxresults_pi1[event_id]=26575&cHash=ec1a1dc6dccbbf80580fa68bd439640f

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Author and an Athlete

Skeleton athlete Brad Chalupski has been picked up by Birthright Israel's "Alef Next" website as a recurring columnist.  In a series of articles, Bradley will explain the motivation behind his competing for Team Israel, and the role his Jewish faith has played during his Olympic campaign.

His latest entry, "An Athlete For Israel", can be found here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Skeleton Team Adds Two World Cup Races to Schedule

The Israeli Skeleton Team is proud to announce that it will be competing in the North American leg of the FIBT World Cup season.  Once the World Cup tour ends its European swing later this month, the best athletes in the world will be competing in:

  • Vancouver (January 29 - February 4) - World Cup race at the Whistler Sliding Center, used during the 2010 Games and widely considered the fastest track in the world;
  • Calgary (February 5 - February 11) - World Cup race at Calgary.  Brad competed on this track in an America's Cup race earlier this season, and hopes to leverage that experience into a competitive finish;
  • Lake Placid (February 13 - February 26) - World Championships in Lake Placid.  In December, Brad earned Israel her first ever medal in Skeleton on this track.  In February, Brad will attempt to make Team Israel a fixture in the world rankings.
World Cup races are televised by NBC Universal, and highlights featured on the FIBT website.  Keep a sharp eye out for any clips of Team Israel, as ours figures to be one of the more compelling ones on the World Cup circuit.

For more information on watching the World Cup races in person, please contact office@israelibobsled.com.