Last Dance: Bobsledder Holcomb eyeing new season

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at

After winning an Olympic gold medal, American bobsled driver Steven Holcomb wondered why people kept saying it would change his life.
He wonders no more.

Here’s a taste of what Holcomb experienced in the last 7 months: He met President Barack Obama, played golf with Charles Barkley, hung out with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, spent time with guys who make the Xbox games he spends countless hours mastering, visited the New York Stock Exchange, threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Cleveland Indians game, went to the Indianapolis 500, became a Microsoft Certified Professional and, oh, posed nude.

“I needed to, you know, try to live it up for as long as I can,” Holcomb said.

Now its time to get back to work.

The U.S. bobsled team opens on-ice training Friday at the sliding track in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the luge and skeleton teams will begin preparations for the 2010-11 season and the buildup to the 2014 Sochi Games.

In February, Holcomb drove the U.S. bobsled program to a four-man Olympic gold, the first by Americans since 1948. And he’s been celebrating in earnest ever since.

“The concern, if the team has one for Steve, is maybe they think this whirlwind’s not going to stop,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer said. “But I think when we get back on the ice it’ll settle down, we’ll all come together and get back on the same page again.”

The three men who’ll push Holcomb and the famed “Night Train” sled this season include returning teammates Curt Tomasevicz of Shelby, Neb., and Justin Olsen of San Antonio, along with Steve Langton of Melrose, Mass., who’ll take the spot of retired push athlete Steve Mesler. They have been working out for months to get ready for the challenges that lie ahead, starting with a return to the Olympic track in Whistler for the World Cup opener in November.

Holcomb hasn’t been working out, at least not at the level he has in past offseasons.

“I was on the road since March,” Holcomb said. “I’ve been training when I can, where I can, however I can. It’s been really tough. Whenever I get a chance, I can work out and do what I can … but I’ve been on the road, basically, well, I’ve had a couple weeks total at home this whole time.”

Hard to blame him for taking advantage of what might be once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The life of most Olympic athletes isn’t exactly glamorous or high-paying. Holcomb was $40,000 in debt at the end of last season, which he’s since managed to pay off thanks to bonuses ($25,000 from the U.S. Olympic Committee for winning gold) and appearance fees that have been coming in since he stood atop the medal podium in British Columbia.

And Holcomb isn’t far removed from thinking his career was over, either. He was going blind, actually down to 20-500 vision before surgery to embed a contact lens behind his iris corrected a degenerative condition. That allowed him to see clearly, which comes in handy while driving a sled down icy mountainside chutes at 90 mph.

So this spring and summer became a victory tour. Thousands of people, he estimates, have worn his gold medal. More than once he woke up in a hotel, not knowing what city he was in. The “Holcy Dance” an inside joke that went viral after teammates loaded it onto YouTube got performed in more places than he cares to count. Air miles traveled? Probably somewhere around 100,000.

“How many times are you going to play a round of golf with Charles Barkley? Not many,” Holcomb said. “But I’m better than him.”

Click here to read the entire article.


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