Olympic medalist, Park City native Steve Holcomb passes away at 37
Holcomb was one of the wold’s most-decorated bobsled drivers
May 6, 2017
Olympic gold medalist and Park City native Steven Holcomb, 37, was "found to have passed away in his sleep at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, today," according to a press release sent out by USA Bobsled & Skeleton on Saturday afternoon.
The cause of death has yet to be officially determined, but a preliminary report released by the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, New York, on Sunday announced the diagnosis of pulmonary congestion as a possible cause. USA Bobsled & Skeleton said the final "cause and manner of Holcomb’s passing remain pending toxicology studies to be performed by an independent laboratory." According to the report, a preliminary screen done at the Center tested negative for drugs and there is no suspicion of foul play.
“It would be easy to focus on the loss in terms of his Olympic medals and enormous athletic contributions to the organization, but USA Bobsled & Skeleton is a family and right now we are trying to come to grips with the loss of our teammate, our brother and our friend,” USA Bobsled & Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said in the release.
Holcomb's success on the sliding track was unmatched by any other American in the history of the sport, and was one of the best in the world during his prime. Throughout his career, Holcomb earned 60 World Cup medals, 10 World Championships and three Olympic medals. He was the pilot of the four-man team that broke the 62-year drought for the United States when he guided the way to a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.
He then carried that momentum into the next Winter Olympics in 2014, where he broke another 62-year-long American medal drought, but this time in the two-man bobsled with teammate Steve Langton. The duo earned a bronze medal in Sochi, Russia.
“I like to think there’s nobody out there in the world that can drive a bobsled better than me,” Holcomb said in an interview with The Park Record in December. “There are very few. They challenge me. They challenge me a lot. It’s hard to say, but I’m not much of a [boastful] kind of guy, but that is kind of my skill. That’s what I do. I can drive bobsleds like nobody else.”
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Holcomb was a 1997 graduate of the Winter Sports School in Park City, and was a huge advocate for the sport of bobsled. In 1998, he began racing as a bobsled push athlete.
According to the release, Holcomb suffered from "keratoconus, an eye disease which weakens the collagen cross fibers within the cornea and leads to streaked and blurred vision." He eventually needed to have a non-surgical C3-R treatment, which has since been renamed the Holcomb C3-R procedure and has helped a number of other athletes.
“A lot of people didn't know my story,” Holcomb said in a separate interview with the Park Record in 2012. “I spent 12 years basically thinking I was going to go blind or eventually having to have a cornea transplant and be miserable.”
The surgery revived his career and, up until his death, Holcomb was enjoying success as recently as this last season. As a Park City native, Holcomb always remembered where he came from and had a special place for the town in his heart.
But his impact was greater than that, as he will be missed around not only in his hometown, but nationally, and internationally, too.
“The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb,” said Scott Blackmun, United States Olympic Committee CEO, in another USA Bobsled & Skeleton release. “Steve was a tremendous athlete and even better person, and his perseverance and achievements were an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve’s family and the entire bobsledding community.”