It sounds like a bad joke: Did you hear the one about the bobsledder from Chico at the Winter Olympics?
But it's no joke to Emily Azevedo or her family.
"She's not what you would call a natural athlete," said her father Alan Azevedo, a 1968 graduate of Downey High. "But she works very hard. If you tell her what to do, she will do it."
Azevedo, 26, is the brakewoman and pushoff specialist for teammate-driver Bree Schaaf of Bremerton, Wash., on the USA 3 sled. They're considered a longshot for a medal but a possible top-10 finisher for the two heats Tuesday night and two Wednesday night.
Her father graduated from Notre Dame following his years at Downey and became an orthopedic surgeon. Alan and wife Wendy raised their four daughters in Chico, and Emily -- the second-oldest -- excelled in gymnastics, soccer and track at Chico High and UC Davis. The 2005 Aggie graduate set a school record in the 100-meter hurdles (14.2 seconds) that held until last year.
Azevedo's interest in bobsledding began when she watched Americans Valerie Fleming and Shauna Rohbock earn a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy. Last year, she and Schaaf won the national championship and placed 10th in the World Championship. This season, Azevedo has finished between sixth and 13th in various races on the World Cup circuit.
She and Schaaf raced to a fifth last year at the controversial Whistler Sliding Center, the Olympic venue where luger Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed and died during training last week.
"Emily said the track was dangerous when she raced on it for the first time a few years ago. Some say it is an elevator of ice," Alan Azevedo said. "They have made some modifications on it since then."