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Search for Speed Athlete Profile: Hayley Yoslov

By: Jim Rutberg, TORRE  March 25, 2024

Get to know Search for Speed finalist, Hayley Yoslov

Search for Speed is a new talent identification program designed to introduce track cycling to diverse and underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, providing youth and young adults with a dedicated pathway to the U.S. National Team. Funded by a generous grant from the Rapha Foundation and support from LOOK Cycle and Wattbike, Search for Speed utilizes a multi-stage screening process to identify key talent markers and introduce participants to track cycling. In January 2024, five finalists earned selection to the US National Team Program. Hayley Yoslov is one of the finalists.

The decision to attend her Senior Prom may have put Hayley Yoslov on a path to the Olympic Games. If the current University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) student hadn’t prioritized prom over racing mountain bikes at Sea Otter in April 2023, she wouldn’t have cruised around the expo with friends and discovered the USA Cycling booth promoting the Search for Speed talent ID program. Less than a year later, Hayley has qualified as one of five Search for Speed finalists and has been offered a spot in the Sprint Development Pool training group.

Although she wasn’t racing the Sea Otter Classic in 2023, she went to support her high school mountain bike teammates and ride in the hills around Laguna Seca Raceway. “I'd spotted the USA Cycling tent earlier in the day but wasn’t sure what was going on,” Hayley recalled. “We thought it was a game, just to get on the leaderboard. I ended up doing it and scoring within the range they were looking for.” Even after recording a 6-second power test that met the qualifying standards, Hayley wasn’t sure what she had qualified for: “I remember asking afterwards, ‘Is this for mountain biking?’ And they said, no… track cycling. I had no idea what it was at that point, but I kept going with the process.”

From High School Mountain Biking to Track Cycling

Hayley Yoslov grew up surrounded by mountain bike culture in Marin County, California, but mountain biking never interested her the way it captivated her brothers and father. When COVID shuttered her soccer program, she told her father, “You have three rides to make me like this.” As she recalls, she cried on the first two, but stuck with the sport and ended up joining The Branson School Mountain Bike Team when practices resumed.

“It took me a while to grow to love mountain biking,” she remembered. “But I fell in love with the team culture and how mountain biking let me explore all the nature around me.”

Soon after qualifying for Search for Speed at Sea Otter, Hayley helped Branson School win the 2023 NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League Division 2 Championship. As she was preparing to graduate from high school, she got the invitation to Los Angeles to participate in the next step of Search for Speed testing. “I definitely didn't feel confident with the tests, so I went to my high school weight room and asked the coach there to teach me how to do the box jump and vertical leap test. He also took me down to the field and tried to show me how to do the 40-meter sprint. I went into the test figuring I wasn't going to score highly, but I made it!”

Cross-country mountain biking and track sprinting are very different disciplines, but once the training began on the velodrome, Hayley quickly discovered an aptitude and passion for the track. “I get something entirely different out of sprinting,” she explained. “For me, it's a beautiful thing to push the body to its raw, absolute power. With mountain biking, I loved it but there were so many uncontrollable variables. I love when it's just you and your machine and the absolute limit of what you can do.”

The heart of an activist

Although she’s one of the youngest Search for Speed finalists, Hayley has already shown she is a leader and activist. At the 2022 Sea Otter Classic, female racers started after the male categories, putting faster female athletes in a situation where they spent most of their races navigating past slower male racers. Hayley sought to change that. She created a petition that received widespread support and used her senior project at The Branson School to analyze data from previous results to show how the start times affected female racers.

As Hayley told Velo in December 2022, “We found that on average, a female racer aged 17-29 had to pass 78 men throughout the course, with the leaders passing up to ~218 men. If the two fields had been separated by one additional hour, a female racer would’ve passed, on average, only 14 male racers, which is an 82 percent decrease.” The start order of male and female categories was changed for the 2023 Sea Otter Classic, although Hayley chose to miss out on the fruits of her labor in favor of going to her Senior Prom.

Now a student at UCLA, Hayley is turning her penchant for activism in a new direction. Although UCLA has state-of-the-art athletic training facilities and extensive support programs for student-athletes, cycling is not an NCAA sport. Neither Hayley nor Kayla Hankins, a Team Sprint silver medalist in the 2023 Pan American Championships, has access to UCLA’s athlete gym or help with class scheduling or academic counseling because they are non-NCAA athletes. “It’s a lot. Between classes and training, I'm constantly shifting my schedule around. We're continuously pushing for access, but we’re dealing with a big institution, so it may take some time.”

Hayley and the four other finalists (Sterling Reneau, Elliott Davis, Reid Myers, and Catherine Hamilton) have been offered spots in the Sprint Development Pool training group as Talent Integration athletes. Although they are not yet National Team Athletes, they have been invited to receive further coaching and instruction in Los Angeles and are gaining access to the Sprint Development Pool Daily Training Environment. At the same time, Search for Speed continues.

For information about how to participate in the 2024 Open Combine format, visit SearchforSpeed.com.