From Portland State to PyeongChang

From the PSU volleyball star, to bobsledding olympian, to NBC commentator — there’s a Viking at the 2018 Winter Olympics!

After years of playing volleyball for Portland State, Bree Schaaf was looking for a way to continue her career as an athlete. Her brother encouraged her to try skeleton, and after attending a training camp in Lake Placid, she started sledding for the U.S. team. She made the switch to the two-person women's bobsleigh in 2008 and it paid off — she qualified for the Olympics in her first try, and placed fifth in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

“I like to do off the wall stuff," said Schaaf during a past interview with the Portland State Athletics Department. “I had been competing on the U.S. skeleton team for four years, but I was tired of dragging my face on the ice and not seeing where I was going. I kept bugging the bobsled coach and after he relented, I haven't been back to the skeleton since.”

Today she’s proud to share her love for the sport with audiences from around the world as a sledding commentator for NBC’s coverage of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Last week, Schaaf had her highlight. She had just finished shooting a report between heats of the Women’s Bobsled race and a group of kids rushed her for a photo.

“One clung to my leg and kept making the k-pop heart sign with her fingers, and another kept flexing and shouting ‘HULK,’ she said. “It was absolutely heart melting.”

Schaaf’s PSU journey brought her to the Olympics, and she encourages PSU students today to explore everything PSU has to offer and dream big.

“My favorite class turned out to be the ones that had nothing to do with my major — like creative writing, metalsmithing and jazz band,” she said. “Explore every inch of that school!”

-- Rebecca Olson