Hiter Harris Competes with U.S. National Bobsledding Team
Jan. 17, 2012
To say that the fall semester was busy for Wake Forest sophomore sprinter Hiter Harris would be an understatement. A member of the men's track and field team, Harris spent the fall of 2011 training for a different sport: bobsledding.
The Richmond, Va., native recently participated in the America's Cup in December with the USA National team, with the team achieving finishes as high as fourth place in the four-man races.
Harris first became interested in bobsledding after watching the 2010 Winter Olympics. As Harris listened to the television announcers describing the various positions and background of the athletes, he noted that a number of the athletes were former sprinters and possessed a great deal of strength. Harris' sister, Katie, commented to Harris that he was both fast and strong, and thus the perfect candidate for a bobsledder, but Harris gave little regard to the comment at first.
"At the time, I didn't think too much of it," notes Harris on his website (www.hiterharrisivusa.com). "But later, I began to consider giving it a shot."
Soon afterwards, Harris traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the start of his bobsledding career. He continued practicing and attending combine training sessions, and the hard work paid off when he was invited to the 2011 U.S. National Push Championships.
At the Push Championships, each bobsledder completed three timed runs while pushing a bobsled on the push track. From the results at these Championships, various four-man teams were then composed. Harris was offered a position as an alternate, and thus he withdrew from Wake Forest for the 2011 fall semester in order to focus on bobsledding.
The decision to temporarily leave Wake Forest was a tough one for Harris, as he even resorted to a coin toss at one point, but he eventually chose to return to Lake Placid to live and train at the Olympic Training Center.
Once again, Harris' hard work paid off in Lake Placid, as he was offered a spot on pilot Jay Noller's four man team after completing just one week of training. Once accepting the offer to compete on the team, Harris and his teammates immediately began training for National Team Trials.
"I was excited for Hiter with his selection to the U.S. Bobsled Team," said Wake Forest Director of Track & Field John Millar. "Hiter is a terrific young man who displays a real passion for athletics, and his physical attributes and commitment to training are the reasons he has enjoyed such success in such a limited amount of time with the bobsled team."
At the Team Trials, USA teams competed against one another in attempts to qualify for the America's Cup and the World Cup. Harris competed in both the 2-man and 4-man team trials, and each of his teams received qualifying positions to the America's Cup.
A total of 12 different races comprised The America's Cup in November and December of 2011 in Park City, Calgary, and Lake Placid. A point-system based upon team performance at each race determined the overall champion at the America's Cup. Heading into the race, Harris' team (USA-5 team) was the fifth-ranked four-man team in the nation.
Harris competed in 11 of the 12 races, with his team achieving their top performances, a pair of fourth-place finishes, in the 4-man competition at Lake Placid.
After an exciting outing in the America's Cup, Harris has temporarily placed bobsledding on hold as he returns to Winston-Salem to prepare for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons. Following the season, Harris plans to make a long-term decision regarding his future as a bobsledder or as a student-athlete.
Harris notes that if he decides to withdraw from school following this season, he will focus all of his time on training for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"It is a tremendous honor to be able to represent your country in an Olympic Games," remarked Millar. "We certainly intend to support him in this quest."
To learn more about Hiter Harris' bobsled experiences and future Olympic goals, please visit his website at www.hiterharrisivusa.com.