The first Estonian bobsled team in the history of the sport, formed this summer by Estonia's honorary consul in Monaco, Mauro Serra, has now had their first training camp and secured a licence to compete.
In the beginning of September, the managers put the prospective members through their paces and selected seven young men to start in the first-ever Estonian bobsleigh team.
The team, made up of Carl-Robert Puhm, Gert Heinala, Hardi Link, Harri Olak, Kaspar Mesila, Indrek Hopfeldt and Märt Lellsaar, has successfully finished its first training camp in Austria. The objective of the week-long camp was to give an introduction to the greater nuances of the sport, to determine the members' positions in the sled, and to qualify for the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) license.
Serra, the team manager, said the boys did well. "They had some mishaps during the first test rides, but this is all part of the game. It is only through mistakes that they learn about the sport and we learn about their individual characters. The way someone reacts in an uncomfortable situation, tells us a lot about their personality."
Team member Harri Olak recalled the first attempts as thrilling: "My most vivid memory is of the first ride - we capsized almost immediately. It was terrifying but exciting at the same time. It did not lead to us wanting to abandon the project; quite the opposite, it gave us motivation to do better next time. The second half of the camp was more successful."
Serra stated: "During the last four days, the guys completed 16 sound runs and the FIBT officials acknowledged their determination and good work."
The FIBT awarded the team with a license, which allows them to take part of official competitions, he said.
In December, the team will head to France, where they are going to practice the start and boarding. They will also undertake their first competition in the Swiss B-category championships.
In the long run, the team hopes to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018.