By Susan A. Merkner, U.S. Army Installation Management CommandMarch 8, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas ─ Knowing that only a few dozen people in the world can compete alongside you is a heady feeling for an athlete. Add to that the drama of the Olympics' world stage and heightened media coverage, and there's only one way to stay focused: resiliency, as taught by the U.S. Army.
Six Soldiers, members of the Installation Management Command's Family and MWR World Class Athlete Program, drove themselves and their sleds during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. These bobsled and luge competitors, representing the U.S. Army and the U.S. Olympic Team, spent years in training to compete in ice events where results might be determined by fractions of a second.
Here are the six WCAP competitors' final standings from the Winter Games:
Sgt. Nick Cunningham: two-man men's bobsled, 21st; four-man men's bobsled, 19th. Cunningham, of Monterey, California, is an Army construction/masonry engineer.
Capt. Chris Fogt: four-man men's bobsled, 20th. Fogt is a military intelligence officer in the Army and calls Alpine, Utah, home.
Sgt. Taylor Morris: men's singles luge, 18th. A native of South Jordan, Utah, Morris is an Army human resource specialist.
Sgt. Matt Mortensen: men's doubles luge, 10th; luge mixed relay, 4th. Germany, which dominates the sport, won the luge mixed relay with a time of 2:24.517. The U.S. team's fourth-place finish was 2:25.091. Huntington Station, New York, is home for Mortensen, an Army interior electrician.
Sgt. Justin Olsen: two-man men's bobsled, 14th; four-man men's bobsled, 20th. An Army human resource specialist, Olsen is a native of San Antonio, Texas.
Sgt. Emily Sweeney: made her first Olympic appearance, in women's singles luge. During her last run in competition, her sled crashed. Sweeney was not seriously injured but was unable to finish. Sweeney's hometown is Suffield, Connecticut; she is an Army military police officer.
In addition, two WCAP athletes served as coaches on the U.S. Olympic Team: Capt. Michael Kohn, bobsled, and Sgt. Shauna Rohbock, bobsled driving.
Some of the Soldier athletes drew the attention of the national news media during the games, and many of them used social media to share the experience from their vantage point. Using Facebook and Twitter , IMCOM shared their messages of resiliency -- developed in the Army and repeatedly tested in sports -- blended with gratitude for the opportunity to pursue their Olympic dreams.
The Winter Games were nicknamed the "Peace Games" as officials from North and South Korea, as well as the United States, were in high-profile attendance despite their geopolitical differences. Athletes from North and South Korea marched under a unified Korean flag during the opening ceremonies, but did not do so in the closing ceremonies.
Sgt. 1st Class Nate Weber, a Green Beret and member of the U.S. men's bobsled team from Denver, Colorado, posted photos Feb. 25 on Twitter showing his children with President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka at the games. The ensuing political tweet-storm inspired Weber to post, "So apparently all I have to do to grow my Twitter following is tweet something some people don't like."
Rohbock posted an Instagram photo of her meet and greet with Vice President Mike Pence, who led the U.S. delegation to the games.
Shortly after arriving in South Korea, Olsen had an emergency appendectomy. His surgery, training and competitions were covered extensively by the media. Olsen provided progress reports on Facebook and shared an exhilarating video of a bobsled practice run from the driver's perspective.
Sweeney's luge crash was the main story out of Pyeongchang on Feb. 13, with vivid photographs published of her mother's reaction to the accident from the viewing stands.
As the dust settles, the athletes are making plans for the future. Before the games, some said they would be considering their Army commitments and deciding whether to stay active in the WCAP. Several said they were looking forward to seeing their families and friends back in their hometowns for a chance to unwind.
Morris, 26, and his wife, Megan, announced Feb. 16 via Instagram that they are expecting their first child later this year -- helping to create the next generation of resilient individuals.