Kate O’Brien is a newcomer to track cycling who narrowly missed qualifying for Sochi 2014 as a bobsleigh brakeman. After being introduced to bobsleigh in 2010, O’Brien had competed at the 2013 FIBT World Championships with pilot Jenny Ciochetti but a torn hamstring took her out of the first half of the Olympic season. Trying to figure out her future, she decided she wanted to try piloting a bobsled, so in March 2014 she attended driving school in Calgary. At the same time, there was a testing camp for Cycling Canada at the Canadian Sport Institute. It seemed like a good opportunity to try a sport she had always been interested in. With good test results, she was invited to a training camp at the velodrome in Los Angeles. In a matter of months she was competing internationally. In September she debuted at the Pan American Championships, finishing fifth in both the team sprint (with Monique Sullivan) and the keirin. O’Brien split 2014-15 between track cycling and bobsleigh, competing on both World Cup circuits as well as at both world championships. She went on to win a pair of medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, taking gold in the team sprint with Sullivan and silver in the sprint, losing to Sullivan in the final. O’Brien would better her more experienced teammate at the 2016 UCI World Championships, finishing an impressive sixth in the sprint.
Getting to know…
Family: Parents Nick O’Brien and Beth Smith O’Brien… Getting into the Sport: Started track cycling at age 25… Outside Interests: Earned Masters of Science (specialization: Joint Injury and Arthritis Research) from University of Calgary in 2015; defended her thesis in December 2014… Enjoys playing guitar, reading, being active outdoors… Odds and Ends: Inspired by paralyzed British trials cyclist Martyn Ashton for his grasp on what truly matters in life and Sir Chris Hoy for his refreshing outlook on sport… Wears a small bumblebee necklace for luck… Has a bracelet with her grandfather’s initials on it that makes her feel like she is bringing him on her Olympic journey… Has certain songs she listens to before a race… Favourite quotes: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” (Groucho Marx) and “I can sum up what I’ve learned about life in three words: It goes on.” (Robert Frost)… Nicknames: Katie, Traps, Trapzilla…
Notable International Results
Pan American Games: 2015 – GOLD (team sprint), SILVER (sprint)
UCI World Championships: 2016 – 6th (sprint), 9th (team sprint), 17th (keirin); 2015 – 12th (team sprint)
Pan American Championships: 2014 – 14th (sprint), 5th (team sprint), 5th (keirin)