Frankie Del Duca competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Submitted photo

BETHEL — In two years, Italy will host the Winter Olympics and Frankie Del Duca, who spent much of his childhood in Bethel, plans to be there at the helm of the USA bobsled.

Del Duca said anything can happen, but he said he, “is in a good position and on a good trajectory.”

Frankie, Haley and Sebastian Del Duca Submitted photo

Part of the lead up to the Olympics comes this week on March 22 and 23, when the final World Cup competition takes place in Lake Placid, New York. Del Duca will pilot four-man and two-man bobsleds.

“They are competing today and they are preparing for two years from now,” said his father, Bethel Select Board Member and Crossroads Diner owner, Frank Del Duca III.


“Going fast is tied to the core of my being,” said Del Duca who, as a 9-year-old, “was squeezing the throttle [of my uncle’s jet ski] so tight that my knuckles were white.”


The uncommon combination of speed, power, strength and size is what is needed to compete in bobsledding said the 5-foot-10-inch, 220-pound athlete. “I’m certainly not slow, but if I went to a track meet with serious track athletes, I would get smoked … the same with weightlifting … .”

On a podcast about bobsledders who drive about 90 mph, with 5G forces, Astrophysicist Charles Liu said, “at 5G’s your typical adult head will feel like it weighs 120 pounds … . ”

Del Duca says when bobsledding there are very high spikes of G force. “I would say higher than 5 [G’s]. Four to 5+ is what you can expect on some tracks … It’s an awesome experience. You’re just flying up these walls that are sometimes 10, 15 feet high. Then other times you’re darting through really short, low quick turns… there’s a lot of pressure and vibration.

“You’re basically trying to tame the beast which is the mountain and the sled. It’s exhilarating to be on that edge of ‘how fast can you go?’ Too much control and you’re slow. Not enough control and you crash. You’re always finding that line of going as fast as possible while keeping everyone safe.”


Frankie Del Duca’s name is listed four times in the glass case by the gymnasium at Telstar High School. The 2011 graduate played soccer and skied, but his greatest success was in track and field where he holds the record in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races and was part of the 1600-meter record-winning relay.


At the University of Maine Orono he was one of the top sprinters and jumpers in the America East conference, winning the conference’s long jump title in 2014 as a senior.

Del Duca met his wife, Haley, between college and bobsled, during what he called, “a special time.” He said, “between friendships, my relationship that started with my now wife; and the restaurant with family. It really was a pivotal time in my life,”  he said.

Initially that year, he was working hard, paying off college loans by waiting tables at his father’s restaurant, Frank’s Bar and Grille, and working ski check at Sunday River during the day.

As the season ended some college friends asked him to live with them in Randolph. He and his friend decided to start training for bobsled. “We took it serious … Eat, sleep, train.”  They drove to Lake Placid together for the combine and rookie camp.


Del Duca’s final World Cup bobsledding team will include three of four push athletes Adrian Adams, Manteo Mitchell, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor or Josh Williamson. Earlier this month in Germany, the team (without Williamson who was injured) finished the first two heats of races with a two-run time of 1:48.98. They completed their final two heats with a four-run combined time of 3:37.63 earning them a 13th-place finish.


Del Duca spent two World Championships as a push athlete to prepare for piloting bobsleds. He said he loves piloting and his ski racing and auto cross background helped with the transition from pushing to piloting.

“I knew I at least wanted to give it a shot … [since then] I have never considered going back to pushing … I just love driving so much. I love racing and going fast.

“It’s an adrenaline rush. There’s some respect for the danger involved. It’s racing, it’s driving, it’s sprinting, lifting, competing … As a driver you’re doing those things so that you inspire the confidence of the push athletes so they truly want to race for you,” he said.


“I was the kid driving the yellow New York Post go-cart [in the Mollyockett Day parade in Bethel] in the early 2000’s,” said Del Duca. The machine belonged to his uncle, John Imann, who owned the 22 Broad Street restaurant in Bethel. Del Duca’s family moved up to Bethel from Florida around that time.

“It was the coolest thing, I had the biggest smile,” he said of the go-cart his uncle recently gifted him, to give to his son Sebastian, when he’s ready.


These days Del Duca appreciates the street time he gets driving his own newly purchased first go-cart.  “My rationale is it’s cross training for bobsledding,” He explains, “I have probably never driven more than two [bobsledding] hours in a season. Just about every run is less than a minute. You might get 100-150 runs, maybe. So you’re probably around two hours of actual driving a bobsled.

“It’s really hard [the G force] on your body … you can only do so many runs a day,” says Del Duca.

Driving the go-cart helps his hand/eye coordination and instincts.

“In the end, I have always just wanted a go-cart. It makes me smile. I’m smiling talking about it,” he said.


Until recently, Team USA had to use bobsleds made in other countries. “[Now, they] say ‘Team USA ‘ in red, white, and blue. [It’s] engraved on the push bar,” says Del Duca of the pride he feels, noting that bobsleds generally are safer, faster, and more aerodynamic these days.


On the other hand, when in the driver’s seat, “it’s just some ropes attached to a piece of metal. You pull left to go left and you pull right to go right. It’s pretty rudimentary in how you steer it,” he jokes.

This week in Lake Placid, family and friends will be there to cheer him on. Sebastian, 14 months old, he will be there, too. “I’m excited to hold him after racing,” said Del Duca.

He appreciates the support and the messages Bethel people send him, too.

“I’ve gone back to Telstar and gone sledding with some kids. They made bobsleds. Just seeing that enthusiasm and having a positive impact is super special and it means a lot to me,” he said.

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