Birth Date: 9 April 1989 (age 31)
Season joined: 2018
Favourite track: St Moritz
Top speed: 134.8kph (Whistler)
Best moment: Being the first female athlete to represent Israel at a World Championships (2019)
In October 2018, I began my journey with Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel (BSI) competing on the Europa Cup circuit. Little did I expect that four months later, I would be the first-ever female skeleton athlete to cross the finish line for Israel at a World Championships race. Taking on the fastest and one of the most notoriously technical tracks in the world in Whistler, Canada, whilst coinciding with International Women’s Day 2019, is something that will stay with me forever. In 2019 I won a gold medal at the Alberta Cup race in Whistler and received an Inspirational Performance Award at the Cambridge United Community Awards.
My goal is to become the first female to qualify Israel for a Winter Olympic games in skeleton and I hope you will join us as we prepare to target Beijing 2022.
I’m originally from Cambridge UK. I grew up in a tiny village outside of Cambridge with a love for horses and to a Jewish family - my last name is Cohen, which gives it away a little bit and we are members of the lovely Beth Shalom community. I studied languages at the University of Sheffield where I took up boxing. In my final year, I was the ladies boxing captain, where we grew the most female members out of all the clubs that year. A few years later I worked at Cambridge Judge Business School as Online Communications Officer and as the skeleton grew and grew, I made Aliyah and am now based out of Tel Aviv, Israel and Cambridge, UK in summer and travelling globally to where the ice takes me throughout the winter season.
How did you get into skeleton?
I am often asked, how did you get into skeleton? I can promise that it’s a fun and important part of the story. If it wasn’t for the amazing experiences I had at the beginning, I wouldn’t be zooming headfirst representing Israel on the international circuit today. My dad took up bobsleigh at the age of 50(!) I went along to watch in Norway and a couple of years later I was invited to go headfirst down the icy track for myself.
The first time I got on a sled was in 2014 during a week’s ice camp in Igls, Austria with the Royal Navy Skeleton team. I fell in love with the sport - the speed, adrenaline and camaraderie within the team was what ignited my passion from the start. I was invited back after Austria to train a few weeks at a time, which took me to different tracks in France, Germany and Norway. I used my annual leave and self-financed to train on ice and started sprint training at the local club in Cambridge. As I improved, I invested more in myself and my equipment. I was shown a lot of kindness along the way from the forces team and friends on the skeleton circuit teams who, for example gave me their old race suits or shared track time. Over the next three seasons my motivation for skeleton grew further and I was introduced to Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel and the best part of this adventure began - I can say confidently that it has changed my life. It’s been a whirlwind so far, and we’re just halfway there!
An Olympic legacy
My father introduced me to skeleton, and I grew up an avid horse rider with my mother, so sports have always been a big part of my family life.
There is an interesting story about my grandfather on my dad's side, Maurice Cohen. He represented the national Indian Water Polo team and they were headed for the Berlin Olympics in 1936. He was not allowed to compete because it was deemed too dangerous for him to enter Hitler’s Germany as a Jew. He contested the decision, but in the end, was made to stay behind in India whilst his teammates competed in Berlin.
He did, however, compete in the Maccabiah Games, where he captained India hockey. I am striving to be present on the world stage that my grandfather was denied. Standing under the Israel flag and wearing the Magen David fills me with a great sense of pride.