By Tim Hipps, U.S. Army Installation Management CommandDecember 6, 2013
PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 6, 2013) -- Several U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program bobsledders past and present are well on their way to earning spots on Team USA for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Former World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, bobsled driver Steven Holcomb, the reigning Olympic and five-time world champion, is firmly planted in the driver's seat of USA-1. WCAP Capt. Chris Fogt, the reigning national push champion, is serving as one of Holcomb's brakemen on the 2013-14 World Cup Circuit.
Holcomb and Fogt will compete today in the USA-1 two-man sled at the International Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup event at Utah Olympic Park in Park City. Two more WCAP Soldiers, Sgs. Nick Cunningham and Sgt. Dallas Robinson will compete in another of Team USA's three sleds.
On Saturday, Holcomb will team with Fogt, and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Curtis Tomasevicz and Steve Langton aboard USA-1 in the four-man event. Cunningham will be backed by WCAP teammate Sgt. Justin Olsen, another 2010 Olympic gold medalist from Holcomb's quartet, along with Johnny Quinn and Abe Morlu. Olsen returns to competition this week following an off-season injury.
Second Lt. Michael Kohn, a two-time Olympian who struck bronze at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games here, is an assistant coach for Team USA's bobsledders.
"I am very excited and honored to have an opportunity to be an Olympic Soldier/coach for Team USA in the sport of bobsled at the 2014 Olympics," said Kohn, a native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and graduate of Chantilly (Va.) High School and George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "I have already had the honor of representing Team USA as a Soldier-athlete in 2002 and 2010. This will be my first Olympics as a Soldier-coach, and I have a great deal of responsibility leading our team.
"I am ready for the challenge and look forward to doing everything I can to get medals for our civilian and Soldier-athletes, WCAP, and our nation."
Holcomb, Fogt, Tomasevicz and Langton triumphed in the four-man World Cup season opener Nov. 30, at Calgary, Canada. Holcomb and Langton also won the two-man event at Calgary.
"It's been a fantastic weekend," Holcomb said. "It's Olympic year, and this is when it counts. Walking away from the season opener with two gold medals feels really good."
The U.S. quartet won at Calgary with a two-run cumulative time of 1 minute, 48.56 seconds, and was followed by Germany's Maximilian Arndt, Marko Huebenbecker, Alexander Roediger and Martin Putze (1:48.65) and Russia's Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov and Maxim Mokrousov (1:48.65).
"It blows my mind that after two runs teams can be tied," Holcomb said of the identical times of the second and third-place finishers. "No one is slouching this year. You have to want and take every hundredth to win.
"My team has been chomping at the bit to compete, and they did what they needed to do to keep us ahead," Holcomb added. "The other teams are here to win, just like we are, and they aren't going to go down easily. We need to be on our game, and I think we did that today."
One day earlier, Holcomb and Langton teamed to break an eight-year-old track record at Calgary with a run of 54.51 seconds en route to winning the first two-man race of the World Cup season. They eclipsed the mark set in 2005 by Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.
"It's an interesting feeling knowing that no one has been faster than us down this track," Holcomb said. "It's pretty cool to have a track record on an established track, and its actually my first track record in two-man."
Cunningham and Quinn finished 10th in the two-man event at Calgary, where Cunningham, Robinson, Quinn and Morlu placed 12th in four man.
Prior to World Cup competition, Calgary played host to the World Push Challenge at Canada Olympic Park's Ice House, and Fogt claimed the bronze medal.
"The brakemen don't get a chance to be in the spotlight too often, so it was nice having the opportunity to showcase our hard work," said Fogt, a 2010 Olympian who missed the 2011-12 World Cup season while deployed in Iraq. "This was such a great experience."
Canadians Jesse Lumsden and Lascelles Brown took the gold and silver medals with push times of 5.004 and 5.064 seconds. Fogt was third in 5.092.
"It looks like I slipped at the start, but my calf was cramped," Fogt said. "I was just happy to keep the Canadians from a full sweep. It was great to get back into competing, and I'm really looking forward to showing what we have on the hill next week."
Robinson (5.126) and Olsen (5.239) finished fifth and sixth in the push event at Calgary.
Fogt also teamed with Holcomb aboard USA-1 for a record-breaking start time to secure victory in the final U.S. two-man bobsled selection race Oct. 20 in Park City.
Holcomb and Fogt pushed 0.02 seconds faster in the first heat than the two-year start record set Nov. 9, 2011, by Canadians Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden at a North American Cup race. Holcomb and Fogt's push record, however, is unofficial, based on International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation rules, because it was not set during an international race.
"I've looked up to the guys on USA-1 since I started competing in this sport," said Fogt, who was selected three months ago to join Holcomb aboard USA-1. "I was anxious to get going, anxious to make a statement in the first race. I was definitely more nervous for this race than I was my rookie year."
Although Holcomb earned a bye onto the national team by virtue of his world championship, he competed in the trials to prepare for the international season. The 2012 world champion piloted USA-1 to the finish in 48.38 and 48.82 seconds to lead the field by 0.35 seconds with a two-run cumulative time of 1 minute, 37.20 seconds with Fogt aboard.
"Fogt stepped up today and showed that he earned his spot on this team," Holcomb said. "I'm really impressed, especially since my guys are still in training mode."
Although Holcomb and Fogt have practiced together on the push track, they had only trained together in a two-man sled down the mountain five times before this race.
"It just goes to show how hard Holcomb has worked this offseason as well," Fogt said. "It feels good to get the first race out of the way."
The WCAP duo of Cunningham and Robinson finished second aboard USA-2. They pushed to identical start times of 4.83 seconds before clocking finishes of 48.59 and 48.96 seconds, for a two-run cumulative time of 1 minute, 37.55 seconds.
Team USA plans to announce its Olympic bobsled roster Jan. 19.