Soldiers past, present strike bronze at Sochi Games
Former U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program bobsled driver Steven Holcomb and WCAP brakeman Capt. Chris Fogt teamed with civilians Curt Tomasevicz and Steve Langton to secure Team USA’s 28th and final medal of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Along the way, they set a track start record of 4.75 seconds.
Everything clicked for Sochi Olympic doublegold medalists Alexander Zubkov and Alexy Voevoda, who teamed with Dmitry Trunenkov and Alexey Negodaylo to win the host Russian Federation’s first Olympic gold medal in the event and their second in the sport of bobsleigh.
Zubkov and Voevoda won the two-man event earlier in the Sochi Games and became the first duo to win both Olympic events in the same year since Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske of Germany accomplished the feat in 2006.
“We won and we proved to everybody that we are the best, that is the most important,” Zubkov said after climbing from the Russia-1 sled with a four-run cumulative time of 3 minutes, 40.60 seconds. “I don’t have any emotions right now. I used them up in the race.”
Oskars Melbardis piloted Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga to second place to earn Latvia’s first Olympic medal in the sport of bobsleigh with a four-run cumulative time of 3:40.69.
“ It is the history of Latvia, and we have just written it,” Dreiskens said.
The Holcomb-driven USA-1 quartet posted a four-run cumulative time of 3:42.70 and Fogt dedicated the bronze medal to his fellow U.S. troops serving around the world.
It was Fogt’s first Olympic medal. He and Sgt. John Napier crashed during their second run at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and were forced by injuries to withdraw from the remainder of the competition. Both soon thereafter deployed: Fogt to Iraq, and Napier to Afghanistan.
Tomasevicz said he pulled Holcomb aside before the race. “I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Let’s do this for Chris.’
“Crossing that finish line was probably the greatest moment I ever felt in bobsled,” said Tomasevicz, 33, of Shelby, Neb., who announced his retirement from the sport after the race. “It was pretty epic. I can’t imagine walking out on a better note. That’s enough for me; it’s been 10 years.”
Fogt seconded the first part of that sentiment, then announced he would return to Soldiering before taking a shot at making Team USA for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.
“Crossing that line with our coaches and friends there and the flag waving was unbelievable,” said Fogt, 30, of Alpine, Utah. “Being with Holcomb is the place to be. He’s the best driver in the world. I’m going full-time Army now -- back to bobsled in 2016.”
Fogt said troops have been watching him from Fort Hood, Texas, and noted that Russia is “quite the change of pace” from Iraq, where he served two years ago.
“I’ve won this for them,” Fogt said of the troops he’s served with. “I can’t wait to show it to them. I’ve gotten so many emails from Afghanistan, Korea, Fort Hood, Fort Campbell (Ky.), and all over the place.”
Fogt’s brother is a second lieutenant at Fort Hood, and his whole unit was cheering for the U.S. bobsled team at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“In the Army, you bleed together, you sweat together, you work out together, you hang around in downtown Baghdad in 120-degree heat in a Humvee for two or three hours -- you go through those things with your crew and it makes you feel close.”
Fogt pointed out that bobsledding is very similar.
“You slide down an icy track in a bathtub with four men in spandex -- you’re very close,” he said. “You get very, very close,” adding that it’s “a brotherhood.
“I’m just very elated to be here,” continued Fogt, whose wife is pregnant. “I cannot be happier, honest.”
Fogt said he will not remove the bronze medal for at least a week. He plans to eat and sleep with it dangling from his neck.
He plans to attend the Captain’s Course, beginning in May at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Then he’ll return to an Army unit, all the while attempting to maintain his physical training for another trip to the Olympic Games in 2018.
WCAP bobsled driver Sgt. Nick Cunningham piloted another U.S. sled nearly filled with Soldiers to 12th place with a time of 3:42.70. He was joined in USA-2 by 2010 Olympic gold medalist Sgt. Justin Olsen, brakeman Sgt. Dallas Robinson, and civilian Johnny Quinn.
“We knew coming in with our draw that we were going to be behind the eight ball, but that’s racing,” Cunningham said. “There’s nothing left in the tank. You can tell we’re pretty exhausted. I did the best I could, but it just didn’t work out for us.”