Todd Hays is trying again for a fourth trip to the Olympics - only this time, as the U.S. women's bobsled coach.
The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation announced Friday that it had hired Hays to lead its women's team through at least the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Hays competed in three Olympics for the U.S., and drove an American sled to a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games to end a 46-year drought for the U.S. program.
"I've always been interested in the position," Hays said. "It's always an Olympic coach's goal to coach for their home country, so this was a great opportunity that presented itself."
Hays retired from driving in 2009 after a crash during a test run in Germany left him with a serious head injury and forced him to abandon plans to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Hays has no lingering issues from the crash, and has been working as a coach with the Dutch team - which he helped win its first medal at a world championships, a silver last season.
"I am incredibly grateful to the Dutch team," Hays said. "They are a professional and kind group of people, and I learned so much working with them. I can't thank them enough."
He officially begins his job with the U.S. team on July 1 at the team's base in Lake Placid.
"Todd easily transitioned into a coaching role last season and was the overwhelming choice of the athletes and the current coaching staff," USBSF CEO Darren Steele said.
Hays and the federation often had different visions with regard to technology and sled-design issues during his sliding career. Those no longer seem to be a concern for either side, and Hays said he hopes to eventually be able to "add value technically" to the team.
Foremost, he said, is helping the U.S. win more races.
"Todd Hays is a game changer," said Elana Meyers, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist as a push athlete who is now driving. "He is a great addition to the team and will put the U.S. women in a position to win three medals in Sochi."
This coming season will likely be a bit of a transition for the U.S. team after the retirement of veterans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming, one of the top teams in the world last season.
"It'll be a challenge without Shauna and Val because they're consistent winners," Hays said. "But I feel very good about the talent we have."
The World Cup season is expected to begin at Austria in mid-November, and will end with the world championships in Lake Placid next February.