Adam Edelman

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Adam (AJ) Edelman
AJ Edelman at the 2016 World Championships.jpg
Personal information
Native nameאדם אדלמן
Nickname(s)Hebrew Hammer
National teamIsrael Olympic Skeleton Team
Born (1991-03-14) March 14, 1991 (age 27)
Boston, Massachusetts
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2014, Mechanical Engineering)
Years active2014-present
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight83 kg (183 lb)
SportOlympic Skeleton
Achievements and titles
National finalsChampion, 2014-18

Adam (AJ) Edelman (born March 14, 1991) is an American-Israeli four-time Israeli National Champion in the skeleton event, and competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.[1][2]

Edelman holds Israeli track records on almost every track he has raced on, and has competed in two World Championships for Israel. He is Israel's most decorated slider, with two international medals in competition.

Personal life and education[edit]

Edelman is Jewish, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts.[3] He was raised in a Zionist, Modern Orthodox home by parents Cheryl (a lawyer) and Elazer Edelman (a notable biomedical engineer, physician, professor, and inventor).[4] He is the middle of three boys. His elder[5] brother is comedian and television writer Alex Edelman, and his younger brother is Austin, also an MIT graduate.[6]

He attended a Jewish day school, Maimonides School. He went to Israel in 2006 with a program similar to Birthright.[4]

Edelman graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (class of 2014, Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in management applications).[7][8] He spent the year after graduation in Beit Shemesh, Israel, studying at Lev Hatorah yeshiva.[4][9] Edelman was then hired by Oracle and worked as a product manager, at their headquarters in Redwood Shores, California, until September 2015 when he devoted himself to training for the Olympics and moved to Calgary, Canada.[7][10][11] In May 2016, he became an Israeli citizen, and he is now a dual American-Israeli citizen.[4][6][9]

Edelman is nicknamed the "Hebrew Hammer", a reference to the title character in the 2003 American comedy film The Hebrew Hammer.[8]

Sports career[edit]


Edelman's first sport was ice hockey, which he began playing at age three, as a goaltender.[7][4] He continued to play hockey through high school for the Brookline Warriors hockey team, at one point turning down opportunities to play at prep schools and remaining at his Jewish day school, Maimonides.[12][13]

Edelman continued to play as a goaltender at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as the first Sabbath-observant player in the team's history.[7][8] He helped the MIT Engineers win two divisional championships in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) Division II league.


Edelman competed as a drug-free bodybuilder for a year, placing in two categories at the 2014 Annapolis Drug Free Bodybuilding Championships in Annapolis, Maryland.[7][13]

Skeleton career[edit]

Edelman has trained for the Olympics without the benefit of a coach.[10] Because Israel does not have appropriate facilities and weather, Edelman mostly trains abroad,though he spends four months a year between seasons in Israel performing physical training in the gym at the Zinman College of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the Wingate Institute, in Netanya, Israel.[1][4]

With an eye on making aliyah (immigration to Israel), Edelman focused his efforts on accomplishing something in the realm of Israeli sports with meaningful inspirational potential, with a goal of using his journey to launch a foundation to foster more sports participation in the Israeli and Jewish communities. After discovering skeleton he decided to focus on making the 2022 Olympic Games, while training part-time. Edelman was initially told that he was "not equipped for the sport" and he would "get down the track but that'll be the most of it",[14] Edelman set out on an 8 year journey, committing "2884 days" to proving that assessment wrong.[15]

Edelman's first race was in November, 2014's Park City, Utah North American Cup. At the race Edelman finished 18.64 seconds behind the race winner, and overheard someone mention that he would likely be gone in 2 years. Hearing this, Edelman shifted his focus towards making the 2018 Olympics, while still working at Oracle. After the 2016 World Championships Edelman was ranked 91st in the world and[13] was advised by three-time olympic skeleton athlete and then-Japanese-coach Kazuhiro Koshi that he had a lot of potential, but could not do the sport "half-half".[14] Edelman then departed Oracle to train full time.[14][16] Over the next two seasons he set Israeli track records at every track he competed at. Edelman still holds these records with the exception of the Whistler track and is Israel's most decorated slider, winning 2 medals in international competition as well as all selection races.

Treating his mission as one of critical importance, Edelman trained non-stop, watching World Cup videos during his rest time to create neuropathways that would develop his driving skill.[17] According to an interview with the Israeli state media channel GPO, Edelman would ensure to be at a skeleton track every Christmas and New-Years Day, explaining that "if you are not training on Christmas, your competitors will be... there is not a day that I went to sleep without doing something to better myself in my sport... I have a responsibility as a national athlete to not rest until I achieve a result for the state (Israel) that she can be proud of."[18]

Edelman's mission is Israel-centric, and every race prior to taking a run he repeats a mantra: "for myself, for my country, for my people".[19]

He has won four Israeli National Titles.[8]

In 2016 he came in 33rd in the Skeleton World Championships, and in 2017 he came in 35th.[7] Edelman won two medals in international competition for Israel, both in Lake Placid in the 2018 North American Cup competitions.[20]

He competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. A total of 30 athletes qualified to participate.[10] He was eliminated in the third round, finishing the run in 28th place with a time of 52.35 seconds, 2.17 seconds slower than leader Yun Sungbin of South Korea.[21] He had hoped to compete with a helmet depicting the biblical figure Samson, but that was forbidden by the International Olympic Committee which deemed it the display of religious propaganda, which is strictly forbidden at the Olympics.[22]


  1. ^ a b Allon Sinai. "Blue-and-white delegation Pyeongchang reaches 10 athletes". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  2. ^ "הוועד האולימפי בישראל". Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  3. ^ About AJ | AJ Edelman, Israel National Skeleton Athlete
  4. ^ a b c d e f Amos Harel. "Trained on YouTube, a Bostonian will be Israel's first Olympian to compete in the games' most dangerous sport," Haaretz.
  5. ^ Sara Levine (January 17, 2018). "AJ Edelman, the First Orthodox Jewish Male Olympian, is Ready for Gold". Jew in the City.
  6. ^ a b Tara Sullivan. "Skeleton racer AJ Edelman living the dream at Olympics," The Boston Globe.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Skeleton | "Athlete Profile: Adam Edelman - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games,"
  8. ^ a b c d Ahaan Rungta. "AJ Edelman ’14 to represent Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics; Former member of Engineers Hockey will compete in skeleton at the Olympics in South Korea," The Tech.
  9. ^ a b "Watch Live Competition Now: Exclusive Q&A"
  10. ^ a b c Jenn Virskus. "With no coach, this Israeli skeleton athlete learned the sport by watching YouTube videos; Adam "AJ" Edelman is now one of the top 30 racers in the world."
  11. ^ Jay London. "MIT alumnus to compete in Winter Olympics," MIT News.
  12. ^ "AJ Edelman, Israel National Skeleton Athlete,"
  13. ^ a b c Gregory Gutterman Scruggs. "Will the 'Hebrew Hammer' achieve his 2018 Winter Olympics dream?" The Times of Israel.
  14. ^ a b c "First Israeli skeleton Olympian's track slid through Calgary". Calgary Herald. 2018-02-26. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  15. ^ "A.J. Edelman Goes For Gold". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  16. ^ "Pyeongchang 2018: A Jewish Viewing Guide, Part II," JewishBoston.
  17. ^ Tim Reynolds. "With 'a lot of chutzpah,' Israeli slider somehow found Pyeongchang," The Times of Israel.
  18. ^ yovel GPO (2018-01-25), אדם אדלמן שליח Skeleton Athlete, retrieved 2018-01-26
  19. ^ "AJ Edelman-Israeli National Skeleton Athlete אדם אדלמן". Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  20. ^ "Adam Edelman". Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  21. ^ "Israel's Edelman eliminated in Olympic skeleton," The Times of Israel.
  22. ^ Allon Sinai. "Israel’s Edelman sits 28th in skeleton, Bychenko on tap," The Jerusalem Post.

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