USA Bobsled/Skeleton 2020 Hall of Fame inductees announced
Lake Placid, N.Y.(December 9, 2020) – USA Bobsled/Skeleton (USABS) proudly announced today the six individuals that will be inducted into its Hall of Fame. Steve Mesler, Tristan Gale Geisler, Randy Jones, Vonetta Flowers, James “Nitro” Morgan, and Geoff Bodine will be inducted as the eighth class. A celebration will be held at a future date when inductees can safely gather for a ceremony.
The USABS Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sports of bobsled and skeleton. Their dedication and commitment as athletes and supporters of USABS will be forever honored through their induction into the Hall of Fame.
“These six people are titans of our sports, and we are honored to recognize their achievements as the newest members of our Hall of Fame,” said USABS CEO Aron McGuire. “Our current success is thanks to the hard work, dedication, and success of the people that have come before us and who’ve paved the way for the future. We are grateful for their contributions, and we’re excited to celebrate their accomplishments.”
Mesler’s accomplishments in the sport of bobsled as a push athlete include world champion, Olympic champion, three-time Olympian, and winner of 39 world cup medals – the most of any American bobsled push athlete in history. Mesler won the 2010 Winter Olympic four-man bobsled gold medal as a pusher for the late Steven Holcomb, who was inducted into the 2017 USABS Hall of Fame posthumously. It was the first gold medal for the United States in 62 years. Mesler also earned two world championship medals in four-man bobsled, winning the gold medal in 2009, which was the first in 50 years for the United States, and a bronze in 2004. Mesler attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he competed as a decathlete for the Florida Gators track and field team from 1997 to 2000. He graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree, with honors, in exercise and sports science in 2000. In 2009, Mesler and his sister, Dr. Leigh Mesler Parise, founded Classroom Champions, which has grown into an international organization that connects Olympians, Paralympians, student-athletes and pro athletes to millions of students in classrooms across the U.S., Canada, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Costa Rica, and military installations in Germany. Mesler lives in Calgary, Canada with his wife, Rhiannon MacDonnell Mesler, and their daughter, Brett.
Gale Geisler was a pioneer in the sport of women’s skeleton, competing in the inaugural women’s skeleton Olympic race in her hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002. In front of her friends and family, Gale Geisler became the first-ever women’s skeleton Olympic champion. Growing up in Salt Lake City, she was a downhill ski racer before deciding to switch to skeleton. Gale Geisler followed up her Olympic performance in 2003 with a bronze medal at the world championships in Nagano, Japan. She and her husband, Jonathan Geisler, who is a major in the Marines, have two kids; Brynn and Grey.
Jones competed in the 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006 Olympics as a push athlete, winning the Olympic silver medal in the four-man bobsled event alongside Todd Hays, Bill Schuffenhauer, and Garrett Hines. It was the first time since 1956 that the U.S. won an Olympic medal in men’s bobsled. In addition, he finished the world cup season ranked in the top three three times: third in 1993 and 1997, and second overall in 2003. At one time, Jones held numerous push start records across the world and was considered one of the best push athletes to compete during his world cup seasons. As a team member, Jones represented everything you needed to be a champion in the sport. He had extreme work ethic, tenacious drive, toughness, character, athleticism and exuded great team camaraderie. Jones attended Duke University, where he played football and ran track while earning a Mechanical Engineering degree. He graduated in 1991, and as of 2020, he still holds five team football records for Duke in kick returns. Jones and his wife, Cheri Alou, have twins, Roman and Marissa, and live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Flowers was a pioneer as a female brakeman in the sport of bobsled by competing in the first two women’s bobsled Olympic races in 2002 and 2006. Her early accomplishments proved to be an inspiration to several future American push athletes. Flowers was the first member of her family to attend college when she accepted a track and field scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she claimed 35 conference titles and victories in the Penn Relays and The Olympic Festival, and first seven-time All-American. Flowers’ transition to bobsled paved the way for many female sprinters and track athletes to follow in her footsteps by moving from track to bobsled. Flowers pushed Jill Bakken in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, winning the inaugural gold medal in the event. As part of the winning team, Flowers became the first African-American Winter Olympic gold medalist in history in any sport. Since her historic accomplishment, other African-American athletes have won medals at the winter Olympics in bobsled as well as other sports, thanks in part to the path paved by Flowers. She and her husband, Johnny, have 3 boys; Jaden, Jordan, and Jaxon and live in Jacksonville, Florida.
Morgan, known as Jimmy, but nicknamed “Nitro” because of his explosive driving style, started driving bobsleds in 1971 and quickly rose up the ranks as one of the top bobsled pilots in the country. He competed at the 1975 World Championships in Cervina, Italy, where he finished seventh in the two-man event. It was the best American finish at the world championships in Europe in the decade of the 70s. Morgan went on to be the top American bobsled pilot at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympic Games in the two-man and four-man competitions, finishing 12th and 13th, respectively. Morgan tragically lost his life during the 1981 world championships in the final curve of the Cortina, Italy track. He is the only U.S. bobsledder ever killed in competition internationally. Morgan’s younger brother, John, was calling the competition with ABC Sports’ Bill Flemming at the 1981 competition that took Morgan’s life. He joins John as the second Morgan sibling to be inducted into the USABS Hall of Fame. Morgan was one of seven brothers and four sisters, and was raised in Saranac Lake, N.Y. He was also a Vietnam veteran.
Bodine, a former NASCAR driver and the 1986 Daytona 500 winner, brought car racing principles, competitive savvy, and 3-D design software to build a gold-worthy bobsled. Bodine noticed that the team had been using hand-me-down sleds from European teams, and he had a desire to see U.S. Olympic athletes compete in American-made bobsleds. Bodine collaborated with race car designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics to create the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. Cuneo was part of the fourth class of USABS Hall of Fame inductees for his contributions to the sled project. Bo-Dyn bobsleds first appeared in the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. The most famous Bo-Dyn sled was the four-man “Night Train,” which was driven by the late Holcomb to the 2010 Olympic gold medal. The achievement ended a 62-year drought for the United States, which had not won a gold medal since the 1948 Winter Games.
There are now 28 members of the USABS Hall of Fame with the addition of Mesler, Gale Geisler, Jones, Flowers, Morgan, and Bodine. Learn more about all 28 Hall of Fame inductees here.
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About USA Bobsled/Skeleton
USA Bobsled/Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com. Individuals interested in becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete can visit www.usabobsledskeleton.com.