The Mason Spirit

Tammi Wark Marcoulier and daughter Alexandria

Celebrating Sliders: Alumnus Gets an Insider's Look at the Quest for the Gold

By Colleen Kearney Rich

Tammi Wark Marcoullier, B.A. English '92, was in the cheering crowd of spectators at Salt Lake City. When the women's bobsled team was awarded the gold medal, she was not only present at the realization of the athletes' dreamsshe had the perfect ending for her book.

A journalist for more than 10 years, Marcoullier was granted what some consider unprecedented access to the women's team, providing her with an insider's look at the sport and a new Olympic team. Her book, Driving Forces: Inside the First U.S. Women's Olympic Bobsled Team, is due out in October from Lyons Press. Sanctioned by the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, it covers the pioneers in the sport from the formation of the team in 1994 (when Jill Bakken, the gold medal-winning pilot, was just 17 years old) through the 2002 Olympic Games.

Marcoullier first met the women's bobsled team in 1997 while covering the Nagano Winter Olympics for USA Today. "At the time, the team did not have Olympic status, but the women were lobbying hard," says Marcoullier. "And the U.S. team drivers Jill Bakken and Jean Racine were medalling in world cup races in nearly every event."

"I spent almost two hours listening to their story," she continues. "By the time the meeting was over, I was overwhelmed and inspired by their quest to become Olympians. I told them that if they ever did make it to the Olympics, I would write a book. I had to make good on my offer, and it has been an adventure ever since!"

Marcoullier kept in touch with the women over the years, traveling back and forth to Park City, Utah, for other writing assignments, and following the team to Lake Placid, New York, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She began traveling with the team in spring 2001, sometimes with her then six-month-old daughter, Alexandra, in tow.

The team was even able to get Marcoullier in a bobsled. "It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life," she says. "The sled travels over 80 miles per hour and the G-forces are up to four times your body weight. I had my eyes wide open the entire time watching the lines in the curves, listening to the scrape of the runners on the ice, and totally enjoying the adrenaline rush. I immediately wanted to go back up and do it again."

Since graduating from Mason in 1992, Marcoullier has worked for NBC4, U.S.News & World Report, and USA Today, in addition to being published in more than a dozen magazines as a freelance writer. America Online Sports is expected to run excerpts of her book on its web site in the weeks preceding its release. More information on the book can be found on

"Now that I am done with the book, I will be looking for a 'real' job again unless another great book opportunity comes along," says Marcoullier. "I cannot say no to the challenging projects. If someone had put me in a sled when I was 26, I would have traded in my laptop for some ice spikes and a speed suit."