Winter Olympics: Army Program Produces Two-Time Medalist Steven Holcomb and Four Other U.S. Bobsledders
By Hayli Goode | BSU at the Games
Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton became the first American pair in 62 years to win a Winter Olympics two-man bobsled medal on Monday, claiming bronze at Sanki Sliding Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, outside Sochi.
The USA-1 bobsled duo had a combined four-run time of 3 minutes, 46.27 seconds with their BMW-made sled to finish just 0.03 second ahead of the fourth-place finishers from Russia. Russia’s Alexey Voevoda and Alexander Zubkov won gold with a time of 3:45.39, and Switzerland’s Alex Baumann and Beat Hefti clocked 3:46.05 for silver.
“This is my second 62-year medal drought that I’ve broken, which is awesome,” said Holcomb, who was part of the gold medal-winning four-man U.S. bobsled team at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and overcame a strained half injury to win his second Olympic medal. “If anybody else has a 62-year medal drought they need to break, just let me know and we’ll try to help you.”
A Park City, Utah, resident, he said: “It’s overwhelming. There’s so much that goes into this, and there are dozens of people behind this team. We may be the only two standing up here, but there’s a huge team behind us pushing us.”
Langton, of Melrose, Mass., said: “I’m struggling right now to comprehend all of this. Everything I’ve done as an athlete has been working towards this point. … It’s been a monumental team effort to get us to this point.”
“I’m just enjoying the moment,” Butner said. “It’s disappointing knowing I was in medal contention, but we threw down today and gave it our best shot. It’s a dream being here, and I am so proud to have had Captain Fogt in my sled.”
Fogt is a captain in the U.S. Army, with Cunningham and Robinson serving as sergeants in the Army. They are among five Army personnel — also including Sgt. Justin Olsen and 1st Lt. Michael Kohn as an assistant coach — allied with the U.S. men’s bobsled contingent in Sochi.
The quintet along with Holcomb, a former alpine skier who served in the U.S. Army National Guard, all came through the Army’s Fort Carson, Colo.-based World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Olsen was with Holcomb’s four-man squad that struck gold for the Vancouver Games in Whistler, British Columbia.
Holcomb, who spent seven years in WCAP, will drive the USA-1 four-man bobsled in competition Saturday and Sunday, with Fogt as brakeman and Langton and Curt Tomasevicz also aboard.
“I get to represent my country on two big fronts and in two different uniforms, both with America’s finest people,” said Fogt, an Alpine, Utah, resident who is in his second Olympics like Olsen and Cunningham. “They’re both pretty dangerous, but both (are) a lot of fun. …
“I couldn’t ask for a better support system. This allows me not to choose between bobsledding or the Army.”
It’s a decision he almost made once, but got convinced to keep doing both by his mentor, a two-star general.
“I was expecting some harsh feelings, but I’ve never had anyone say anything bad to me about it,” Fogt said. “At the last Olympic Games (in Vancouver), I was getting texts from friends in Korea and Iraq, always a lot of support. It helps me feel like I’m doing something good.”
Sense of pride
Olsen, of San Antonio, said he is competing in the Olympics to provide a sense of pride for fellow soldiers.
“It’s a great honor to stand on the podium after conquering the world in my sport,” he said.
He considers his one-year deployment to Iraq “an awesome experience.”
“Now, being home from Iraq, you see what they sacrifice. You have fathers with birthdays and kids on Skype,” Fogt said. “I’ve watched people see funerals and their wife and kids get sick. I got to see what their job meant to them and what they go through.
“Once I got home, I missed that. I missed the soldiers. Going back to bobsled seemed superficial at first. … I’ll do at least two years back with the regular Army. And, if the (bobsled) team is doing great and if I can’t contribute, then I won’t come back.”
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