Olympic gold-medal bobsledder Holcomb takes star turn

The following an an excerpt from an article published at dailynews.com:

Steve Holcomb ditched the Oscars for NASCAR.

Holcomb, who had just won gold as the driver of the United States 4-man bobsledding team in the Vancouver Olympics, already had plans to attend the race in Atlanta. The Oscars were tempting, but Holcomb said yes to left turns and no to strutting down the red carpet.

“I thought the NASCAR race was more important because of all the support Geoff Bodine and those guys have given me over the years,” Holcomb said by phone recently. “Hopefully, I’ll make it to the ESPYs. I’ve never been to the Preakness. I’d like to go to that too. That would be really cool.”

Holcomb has had quite a few perks since the Olympics, appearing on talk shows, attending sporting events and getting recognized and congratulated. That’s new for him.

He stepped off his plane from Vancouver to New York and immediately was recognized. It happened again after another 100 yards. He was stunned.

“There have been a lot of people who say I look smaller in person,” Holcomb said laughing. “I’m a 230-pound guy. How do I look smaller? I must look huge on TV.”

Holcomb looks like a regular guy. You can easily see him with a hard hat working construction or in a button-down shirt at a bank.

He’s not some chiseled speedskater like Apolo Anton Ohno. That’s part of his appeal.

He’s humbled.

“It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m a gold medalist,” Holcomb said. “It’s so hard to believe. It’s something I’ve worked 12 years for. It’s all I know. Now, that it’s done it hasn’t hit me. It’s been crazy – a whirlwind. It’s been almost nonstop since the finish of the race. But it’s a fun overwhelming. It’s a good thing to have.”

Holcomb was in Los Angeles the past week, mainly to visit his eye doctor. Holcomb was once legally blind, which made his success even more endearing in the Olympics. With the help of Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler – and a quick procedure combining vitamin solution and light – Holcomb is now seeing 20/20.

The Web site for the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute features Holcomb and his story on their home page.

Now there’s no squinting when he goes to sports events. He went to the Kings game Sunday and was shown on the JumboTron. He’s becoming a bit of a hockey fan, which no doubt increased after attending the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada. He trains in Utah, so he doesn’t have the opportunity to see NHL games that often.

Bodine co-owns a company that makes Bo-Dyn bobsleds. His company made the U.S. team’s bobsled, “Night Train,” which Holcomb drove to gold.

So was that seat belt he wore as a back-seat passenger in the pace car for the Kobalt Tools 500. Brett Bodine, Geoff’s brother and a former NASCAR driver, drives the pace car for the Sprint Cup series.

“Going 160 (mph) is an incredible feeling,” Holcomb said. “We took off, and I couldn’t believe how fast we got to 160. You think there’s no way this car can handle this curve. You think we’re going to hit the wall and crash. It was a cool feeling. I couldn’t imagine doing that three hours straight.

“I wouldn’t say I was scared with Brett. He knows what he’s doing, but he was driving one-handed looking back at us in the mirror. I was like, `Whoa, 10 and 2 buddy,”‘ in reference to where the hands should be placed on the wheel, akin to an analog watch.

Jimmie Johnson tracked down Holcomb and both admired each other’s crafts.

“Everyone who competes in bobsled probably thinks NASCAR is crazy and NASCAR drivers probably think the bobsled is crazy,” Holcomb said. “You never think you’re crazy. bobsled isn’t that bad. I’ve watched some NASCAR on TV before and it’s cool, but it doesn’t compare when you’re in person. It’s crazy, the speed they go.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here for more on Steve Holcomb.

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One Response to Olympic gold-medal bobsledder Holcomb takes star turn

  1. Pingback: Steve Holcomb reveals techie side « The Utah Olympic Park Blog

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