Todd Hays' bobsled career comes to an end


Illustrious has been the career of 40-year-old U.S. bobsled veteran Todd Hays, one of the sport's great drivers. But after crashing his four-man sled during a training run in Winterberg, Germany last Wednesday, Hays emerged with dizzy spells, a condition Hays hoped indicated nothing more than a mild concussion. But after undergoing an MRI upon returning to the U.S. team's training center in Lake Placid, doctors have advised Hays to retire.

In 2002, Hays cemented his place in history by piloting the U.S. four-man sled (with Randy Jones, Bill Schuffenhauer and Garrett Hines) to the country's first medal at the Olympics since 1956. Hays actually led that competition after two runs, but dropped to third and then moved to second on the final run, ahead of teammate Brian Shimer on the medal stand.

He had always been a dedicated Olympian with a decidedly atypical winter-Olympian's background. For starters, he was from Texas, a fine place to put ice in tea, but not on bob tracks. He played linebacker at Tulsa and then won a handful of ultimate fighting competitions overseas before the sport had truly caught on. He parlayed his strength and sprinting speed into a bobsled career in 1994, when he attended a skills session in San Antonio on a whim. He used money he had won at a fighting competition in Japan to purchase his first sled and became an alternate on the 1998 Olympic team.

Even after he rose up the U.S. Olympic tree toward the success of '02, the ultimate fighter never lost his edge. In '05, Hays was competing in Cesana Pariol, Italy, when he lost his footing while pushing the sled and actually drove the sharp-edged rudders of the vehicle over his right foot. He finished the run and said he felt fortunate not to have sliced off any toes. After his initial treatment he needed more surgery later after the wounds became infected.

After placing seventh in both the two- and four-man events four years ago at the Turin Games, Hays figured his career was at an end. Dabbling in football coaching at Baylor, Hays, though, found he missed the 80-plus-mile-an-hour thrill of bobsledding. He was back in form this year in Park City, where he placed second in the two-man competition with Steve Langdon before sustaining the injury in Winterberg.

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Recent Comments »

Kneeblock site profile image  

12/19/09 1:29 PM by Kneeblock

Well, Todd I suspect sustained injuries a lot less severe than Yuki Nakai.  So even though he was doing what was in his best interests, old Yuki still took the fall and Rickson was compassionate, only punching him twice. I think it's awesome that Todd was able to successfully follow his dreams.  Apollo is the spirit of Tul$a.    

ToolZeppelin site profile image  

12/19/09 1:25 PM by ToolZeppelin


ClayM site profile image  

12/19/09 1:12 PM by ClayM

I think you are confusing fear with sense. What did Todd have to gain by fighting Rickson? Maybe he wins and still walks away from fighting to bobsled. What could happen? He brakes his own hand striking and cannot drive the sled. Or he gets his arm, shoulder, etc. torn up and cannot train for bobsleding. That would defeat the whole purpose of him being there.If you knew Todd's background you would know he was not scared just had the sense not to risk it.Would you tell someone that has been training throughout med school that he is scared because he does not fight pro even if he had the skill. I think not. He would know what his priorities are and not see the need to prove anything because that was not his intent.If Todds intent was to win the tournament and he chose not to fight then yes I would say fear played a factor. It is a simple risk reward situation.

Tyler Durden site profile image  

12/18/09 7:14 PM by Tyler Durden

Umm did you really say he wasnt afraid of Rickson. I'm calling BS on this one. He may hv only wanted 1 thing from the tourney (the money for the bobsled) and thats fine, but come one now. Not scared. I peed myself a little for him seeing him try and figure out which injury was more appropriate. *Props to him for sticking w/ his dream, congrats on the medals most of us will never have, and it must really suck to have that video out there for everyone to see. I would blame most of it on Apollo cause he made Hollywood look much much worse. The best part of driving thru Tulsa is laughing at the thought of Apollo. He's 2nd tier to OMA in that town."Look at that fat belly Todd, look at those puny arms"Apollo Cook "CHOKE"

ClayM site profile image  

12/18/09 5:32 PM by ClayM

Another bobsleding and MMA connection is Martin Rooney, he is the strength and conditioning coach for Renzo, Ricardo Almedia and their fighters. I believe he slid with Todd back in the late 1990s.

ClayM site profile image  

12/18/09 5:29 PM by ClayM

I competed with Todd for 5 years on US Bobsled team and talked to him about the tournament in Choke. He was there for one reason only, to get enough money to buy a bobsled. He knew where his future was headed and did not see the point in risking injury fighting Rickson. He was not scared of Rickson, after winning the first fight he had what he wanted. Yes, had Rickson lost he did say he would have considered fighting the next match. Todd is one of nicest guys you will ever meet. My prayers go out to him and his family.

Humboldt JuiJitsu site profile image  

12/17/09 7:32 PM by Humboldt JuiJitsu

 I hope he is okay, and wish him the very best whatever his future holds. His coach was a douche, but under proper tutiledge the kid could have been a force.  But what I admired about Todd was that he followed his dream, on his terms, and accomplished much more than any of us ever gave him credit for.  The man is a gold medal olympian - which is pretty f'n cool if you ask me (and I do not give two shits about bobsledding).

MauricioG site profile image  

12/17/09 7:30 PM by MauricioG

lol at "ultimate fighting competitions" ... mma is a joke nowadays...

The Horror site profile image  

12/17/09 7:22 PM by The Horror

 Was he on TUF season one?

SgtMac site profile image  

12/17/09 7:14 PM by SgtMac

maybe he can bobsled with apollo cooks brain