Bobsledder Kaysha Love pushed her way to an Olympics. She now wants to drive to another
Kaysha Love is trying to pull off perhaps the most difficult transition in bobsledding, the one where a push athlete tries to become a driver.
Last year, the results weren’t great.
This year, so far, they are.
Hard as this may be to believe, the four-year cycle between one Winter Games and the next is almost half over already — and Love’s recent run of success suggests that she’s a serious hopeful to be part of the U.S. team at the 2026 Olympics. (Italy will host those games, though the sliding will take place elsewhere since plans to rebuild a track fell through.)
“My goal is to return to the Olympics,” said Love, who was at the 2022 Beijing Games as the push athlete for three-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries. “And I understand that it just takes more time to develop as a pilot than it does as a brakeman. Ultimately, the goal is just to return to the games, whether that’s a pilot or as a brakeman. But I would love to see it, God willing, be in the pilot direction.”
That quest might have seemed farfetched at times last season. Love drove in six races last season on the North American Cup tour, a mostly developmental circuit where hopefuls tend to learn if they can drive or not. The results: she was last or next-to-last among the finishers of every race, finishing an average of 2.51 seconds behind the winning sled. In real time, 2.51 seconds isn’t much. In bobsled, it’s a lifetime.
“At this time a year ago, I was getting my (butt) handed to me by, like, everybody,” Love said.
Not anymore. Love drove in four NAC races last week and something had most definitely changed — she finished second in her first race, won the next three, and had the fastest time in seven of her eight race heats.
And that got her a spot on the World Cup team as a driver for the first time. She leaves this weekend for Europe, with her first race as a driver on the sport’s top circuit coming in two weeks at La Plagne, France.
“The athletes have waited a long time to get back on the ice and begin competing,” USA Bobsled director of sport performance Curt Tomasevicz said after that North American Cup week in Lake Placid, New York. “So, it was very rewarding to see so many great results. It is the reward of a lot of hard work in the offseason.”
That has been Love’s calling card.
She comes from an athletic family: her parents played basketball and volleyball, her sisters are volleyball players and there was no shortage of competition. Love remembers watching gymnastics on TV as a young kid and turning the family’s couch into vault apparatus; her mother quickly got her into a gymnastics class and that school moved her into the competitive group after just one day.
The Olympic dream was hatched there. Love was a very accomplished gymnast, but realized she wasn’t good enough to make the Olympics in that sport. So, she became a sprinter — even though she hates running — and excelled again, piling up a slew of state records in her native Utah and then racing in college at UNLV.
Bobsled came calling and she was quickly hooked. Love became a push star, her sprinting background making her exactly what’s needed to get a bobsled moving. She and Humphries were certainly among the gold-medal favorites in Beijing, until Humphries — who won the monobob gold in Beijing a few days earlier — basically blew out her right calf and couldn’t generate the speed she needed at the top of the track. They finished seventh, the worst finish they ever had as a duo.
Two things happened that night near Beijing. Love shed a few tears — and hatched a new plan.
“I think had Beijing maybe gone a little bit more in our favor or gone a little bit different, I don’t know if I can truthfully say that I would have been continuing bobsled and especially continuing in the pilot role as well,” Love said. “So, I’m very grateful for the way that shook out.”
Humphries, who is not currently racing but plans to return and compete in plenty of time for the 2026 Olympics, has fully supported Love’s desire to move from the back seat to the driver’s seat. She even said at the 2022 Games that Love had the potential to be a great driver, and that was before Love had even tried it once.
Seems like Humphries knew what she was talking about. And now Love’s education gets to continue at the World Cup level, all with the 2026 Olympics — and maybe even the 2030 Olympics — in mind.
“I am very much still in a very focused state of not allowing the success and the fun that happened last week to kind of dictate what my season is going to look like,” Love said. “I’m kind of trying to stay focused and just remain calm in the sense of not allowing moments to become bigger. I’m worried about me and my team and having fun and the growth that I’m going to be achieving this season.”