‘The Freeze’ gets in­vite for train­ing in skele­ton

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - EARLY LEAD BY MARISSA PAYNE marissa.payne@wash­post.com

He’s al­ready got the out­fit, so why not put him on a sled?

That wasn’t quite the think­ing of USA Bob­sled and Skele­ton, which in­vited “The Freeze” to one of its train­ing camps, but of­fi­cials say “The Freeze” so far fits the part.

On Thurs­day, the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­vealed it re­cruited the fa­mous At­lanta Braves grounds­man, who be­came an In­ter­net sen­sa­tion for rac­ing fans at games while wear­ing a sky blue body­suit and ski gog­gles, and in­vited him to rookie push train­ing camp.

“It was that clip that’s all over now where the guy falls at the end and [he] just comes from so far be­hind to beat this guy,” Team USA re­cruiter Mike Dionne said via the team’s web­site, re­fer­ring to a video of Nigel Tal­ton as “The Freeze” that went vi­ral over the sum­mer. “So of course all of our ini­tial thoughts were that we have to get this guy to try out for the bob­sled­ding and skele­ton team.”

Tal­ton, 26, who briefly ran for Iowa Wes­leyan, where he broke a 23-year-old record his fresh­man year by run­ning the 100-me­ter sprint in 10.73 sec­onds, did not dis­ap­point.

“He did re­ally well on the test­ing, which was not a sur­prise be­cause we knew he was fast,” Dionne said, adding that be­cause Tal­ton is “a smaller guy” he thought he’d be bet­ter suited for skele­ton than a bob­sled.

“It reaf­firmed what we thought, that skele­ton would be more suit­able for Nigel, so we’re go­ing to in­vite him back to camp in Novem­ber and get him on a sled.”

Tal­ton, who joined the Braves grounds crew in 2012, is ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity but isn’t let­ting him­self get car­ried away.

“If I have the chance to make [an Olympic team] it will be great, but for right now I’m just get­ting my feet wet, get­ting a foot in the door and learn­ing the sport,” Tal­ton said.

Should Tal­ton make a fu­ture team, he wouldn’t be the first track ath­lete to tran­si­tion to win­ter sports. While less com­mon in skele­ton, which re­quires ath­letes to get a run­ning start be­fore ly­ing face down and for­ward on a fast-mov­ing sled, bob­sled has seen plenty of track stars make the team.

Even if he proves ex­cel­lent next month, it is highly un­likely Tal­ton, with al­most no ex­pe­ri­ence, would be able to qual­ify for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Plus, as he told The Post ear­lier this year, his pri­mary ath­letic goal re­mains to qual­ify for the 2018 world in­door track and field cham­pi­onships.

“I’m just pray­ing on it,” Tal­ton said Thurs­day. “I want to in­spire oth­ers not to give up on their dreams. You fail if you don’t try. I’m just try­ing to chase my dreams and not give up.”

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