Olympic bobsledder Aja Evans talks to us about body image and being a "glam girl"on and off the tracks
We are fast approaching the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and American bobsledder Aja Evans is ready to take the world by storm. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Evans and her bobsledding partner Jamie Greubel Poser won a bronze. The pair is now returning to the ice to claim more medals for the USA.
Born and raised in Chicago, Evans has been a hardworking athlete her whole life. Before she entered the world of bobsledding, Evans was a five-time track and field champion at the University of Illinois. In 2010 at the urge of her coach, Evans found the same athletic skills that made her successful at shot put and sprinting were a natural segue into bobsledding.
But sports aren’t all that Evans knows. She’s currently a partner with Olay, and is highly aware of the benefits of keeping a detailed skincare routine. Since winter sports can wreak a special havoc on skin, Evans is vigilant with treating herself on and off the podium.
We were lucky enough to chat with Evans about what motivates her career track, who her all-time favorite female role models are, and of course, her go-to winter skin tips.
HelloGiggles: Did you watch the Winter Olympics as a child?
Aja Evans: Growing up, I loved watching the Olympic Games in general. When it came to the Winter Olympic Games, I was always into figure skating. I also loved all the crazy skiing events too, with the flips. My sister and I swore up and down that we could do those moves without any training. We would jump off the couch and try them.
HG: How did your experience with track and field affect your bobsledding abilities?
AE: The idea was presented to me senior year of college at The University of Illinois. My coach told me about the sport. I grew up doing track and field and I had a unique combination of doing shot put and sprinting, so it ended up being the perfect combination for bobsledding. When the 2010 Winter Olympic games were approaching he told me about bobsledding, and he told me I would be a good fit for that sport. I kind of brushed it off at the time, because I assumed all my Olympic dreams would be connected to track and field. And then I took some time off after college and I missed being an athlete. I missed being at an elite level and I ended up shooting for bobsledding and being really good.
HG:Do you remember a specific lightbulb moment where you realized “I’m really doing this?”
AE: I think one of the moments where I became 100% in it for bobsledding was in 2013. It was the year before the Sochi Olympic games, and I was at my last race of the season, and while I was there my grandfather passed away. It was really tough for me. I’m a really family-oriented person, so as soon as that happened I was like, “Fuck this, I want to go home.” My mom, and my brother — who was playing in the NFL — really wanted me to stay. I was mad at them at the time. On race day, it was nighttime at Sochi and it was daytime in Chicago, and it was the day of my grandfather’s funeral. I made the decision to put all of my feelings — my anger, my sadness — into the sled, and let my feelings go. So, I did that, and won silver. As soon as I got off the podium I called my mom, she was just getting out of the funeral service, and she said it was the best news they heard all day. Everyone was praying for me and rooting for me back there. At that moment I knew I was in it 100%. I wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of me and my goals. I feel like my grandpa was really with me and rooting for me that day.
HG: What is your skin care process before competing?
AE: The winter cold is rough on my skin, and I get dry easily, so staying hydrated is my biggest thing. I love the Olay Cleansing body wash, because it helps me still feel hydrated and cleansed and I’m not stripped of my moisture. I don’t wanna feel distracted while I’m out there competing.
HG: Do you have any relaxing rituals after a big day of competition?
AE: Oh for sure. I love a good face mask, and cleansing my face. I think participating in sports, particularly bobsled, has taught me so much about the importance of skin care and really taking care of my skin. I’m taking a helmet on and off, I’m sweating, so my body is going through it. Just staying hydrated and moisturized as well as cleansed is a big factor.
HG: What’s your partnership with Olay been like?
AE: Their makeup removal wipes have been one of my all-time favorite products because they get all that makeup off without stripping my skin and making me feel super dry. After working with them this year and checking out their Olay cleansing infusions, it’s helped me to feel glowy during this season. We’re sledding in below zero temperatures so anything I can do to be moisturized the whole time is super good.
HG: What are your current must-have beauty products?
AE: I love waterproof products so even when I’m competing I’m still the same glam girl I am off the tracks. I’ll do lashes and have waterproof mascara on, waterproof concealer under my eyes just to brighten it up. I love a good highlighter on my brow bone to give that overall glowy feeling. And then with skin care, like I said, I love making sure I’m nice and hydrated. I love highlighter with a golden tone, I feel like I’m addicted to the glowy gold shimmer. Even though my helmet might take most of it off during races, I still have it on. If I have time before I go to the podium, I’ll splash some highlighter on my cheeks and everything. I have the look good, feel good, mentality. I do love makeup, I have different formulas I use when I’m competing.
HG: How does being a professional athlete affect your relationship with body image?
AE: I think my body image and how I see myself became super positive with time. Growing up, I did sports since I was a child, so I looked athletic from a young age. You go through phases where you think you’re supposed to look a certain way because boys like it, or social media likes it. I finally reached a point where I started embracing my body and people started complimenting me on traits I didn’t previously love.
HG: Have you received a lot of fan mail from young girls who look up to you?
AE: I get a lot of love from not just girls, but a lot of women as well. I think that’s a big testament to the power of women and how strong we are. Women who can’t physically relate to doing bobsled can relate to my journey and the act of going after what you want. I think that’s so amazing because my mom has groomed me to be such a strong person and athlete. Once I started getting more attention for bobsled I realized I was representing more than myself, and I wanted to show people the power of being a black woman from Chicago.
HG: Which women have inspired you in your career?
AE: Two athletes that are my all-time favorites are Venus and Serena Williams. I’m completely obsessed with both of them as trailblazers in sports, especially for black women. Also, I think Michelle Obama is so amazing. When I did the last Olympic Games, they lined up all the athletes and announced your name before you go meet the president and first lady. When they announced my name, they kind of looked at me like I was familiar, and when they saw me it went from a handshake to a hug. It was so crazy, Michelle told me that her and her daughters watched my race and they admired how gorgeous I was and how I represented Chicago. That took me aback; it was an honor to meet her and I was such a big fan of hers.
HG: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
AE: I have to shout out my 8-year-old niece Rihanna! She is my biggest fan and reads all my articles. One time I gave an interview and shouted out my mom and not Rihanna and I was in trouble, haha.