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More than 2,500 athletes will compete in the Winter Games and only 45 of them are black.

Ten of those black athletes represent the United States.

Four of them are on the women's bobsled team.


Reaching the grandest stage in sports is an impressive accomplishment on its own, but the women of USA bobsled continue to beat the odds, representing the country and black women as they compete for a spot on the podium. I spoke with two of the five members of the team, to learn more about competing as black women in this thrilling winter sport.

Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauryn Williams of the United States in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

Elana Meyers Taylor and Aja Evans hoped to make their Olympic debuts in the Summer Games, but life had other plans.

Meyers Taylor, 33, was a competitive softball player through college. When she didn't make the Olympic team in the sport, her parents suggested she look into bobsled.

"They saw Vonetta Flowers compete in 2002, and they were like, 'She's strong and athletic and she's a black woman like you. There's no reason why you can't be involved in bobsled as well,'" Meyers Taylor says.

It didn't matter that she didn't even own a winter coat at the time — Meyers Taylor saw the speed and excitement of a bobsled run and knew it was for her.

Elana Meyers Taylor, center, with her parents. Image via Procter & Gamble.

Aja Evans comes from an athletic family. Her father was a competitive college swimmer, and her brother spent eight seasons in the NFL. It was no surprise when Evans became a standout athlete at the University of Illinois, earning Big Ten Titles in shot put. When she didn't earn a spot on Team USA for the 2008 summer games, Evans turned her attention toward the ice.

"When I brought [my family] the idea of bobsled, they were a little taken back by it because it's not your typical sport," Evans said. "Once I explained to them my potential in the sport and what I could bring to the table, they were all for it and once we started producing results and really getting into the swing of things ... I received a lot of support from my family and people in my city and all around the country."

Aja Evans with her mom, Sequocoria Mallory. Image via Procter & Gamble.

Being a black woman at the center of Winter Olympics success is nothing new for these athletes, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

"It's always an honor to represent your country, and it's always an honor to represent black women, especially in a sport where we're not typically represented," Meyers Taylor says. "Yes, there's some inequalities and injustices that go on in our country ... so we're just trying to go out there and do what we can every single day and not only represent us, represent the U.S., but also represent our race and ethnicity and show the world that no matter what you look like, you can be successful in whatever you want to be."

Elana Meyers Taylor speaks during the Team USA Media Summit. Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images.

Like Meyers Taylor, Evans takes pride in her unique space on Team USA.

Evans is arriving in Pyeongchang ready to return to the podium. Her confidence is buoyed by the people rallying behind her, at home and abroad.

"I'm very confident in myself, whether it be because of who I am as a black woman or the things I've accomplished as an athlete for Team USA," she says. "I do feel like when we step into rooms, we draw attention, whether it be good or bad. The main thing is that we own it, and we wear it well. It's not in a cocky way. It's not in a negative way or a timid way. We're proud to represent who we are."

Aja Evans at the United States Women's Bobsleigh Team press conference. Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images.

Regardless of their differences, what unites Team USA is their drive to win.

After years of hard work and dedication, both women have been successful in bobsledding's biggest competitions.

Pyeongchang will be Meyers Taylor's third Olympics. She pushed her way to a bronze medal in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, then switched to the pilot position, where she earned a silver medal in Sochi in 2014. Evans pushed Jamie Greubel Poser to a bronze medal in Sochi and is back in the brakeman position this year.

Canadian gold medalists and silver and bronze medalists from Team USA. Left to right: Elana Meyers Taylor, Kaillie Humphries, Lauryn Williams, Heather Moyse, Aja Evans, and Jamie Greubel. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

What's it like inside the sled? Evans and Meyers Taylor shared what you won't see on TV.

It's an adrenaline rush like no other as the athletes speed down the 1,500-meter course with 16 curves, each with varying degrees of difficulty. The sleighs are typically made of metal and fiberglass and can reach speeds of up to 84 miles per hour.

"I think the most intense moment for me at the start is right when I'm about to run. Just standing on that line and feeling that heart in my chest. You're kind of zoning out all the noise and just focused on putting everything you can into the ice," Evans says. "Once [my drivers] put their hand up and signal that they're ready to go, it's just one speed from there."

Aja Evans during the women's bobsled event at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images.

For the most part, the trip down the icy track is a blur, especially for the brakeman.

"The brakeman can't see anything. They're in the back; their head tucked between their knees," Meyers Taylor says. As for the pilots, "We're actually driving the sled; we're not just leaning."

That means the pilots have to negotiate those twists, turns, and bends, their slopes ranging from 8-15%, with true precision. While they can't see the clock on the way down, there are ways to know if they've hit their mark.

"You can feel it in your hands. You can feel what the sled is doing. You can feel the ice beneath you. You know whether or not you're hitting the line," Meyers Taylor says. "You don't know how your time will compare to other pilots, but you know whether or not you're on. When you're on, it's the greatest feeling in the world."

Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs compete at the Women's Bobsleigh World Cup. Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IBSF.

Meyers Taylor, Evans, and the rest of Team USA take to the ice and bobsled coverage begins Sunday, Feb. 18.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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