Parkite Holcomb a slider and a soldier
Park City’s Steve Holcomb is no stranger to pressure. He is undoubtedly feeling it this weekend as he competes as a driver in the four-man bobsled face for the United States at the Olympics, and felt it earlier this week in the two-man event. But pressure is something that comes with the territory for Holcomb, because he is not only a world-class athlete he’s an American soldier.
Holcomb is part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which is designed to support soldier athletes to receive the best training possible to excel in national and international competition, including the Olympics, while still serving in the military. The program is ideal, because it provides a viable way for athletes financially survive as an elite athlete. In exchange for service to the country, athletes are able to train at the highest level, without worrying about how to cover the costs.
Holcomb, an army specialist and combat engineer for the Utah National Guard, actually has a rather military sled. One of his brakeman, Lorenzo Smith III (Kankakee, Ill.) is an Army captain and works as an air defense artillery officer. The two join a long list of WCAP athletes, including 2006 silver medallist Shauna Rohbuck and 2002 gold medallist Jill Bakken.
Holcomb has been a bobsledder for seven years, after first getting addicted to the sport at Utah Olympic Park’s track. So, the ability to continue to excel at his sport without financial constraints is very beneficial. According to WCAP information, they will accept any soldier in any Olympic sport as long as they display Olympic potential. Once a solider has attained a certain elite athletic status, based on results and competitions, they become a very promising candidate for the program.
Holcomb and Smith will be joined by Bill Schuffenhauer (Salt Lake City, Utah), pictured left, Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) in the USA 2 bobsled. In USA will be Todd Hays (Del Rio, Texas), 2002 Olympic four-man silver medallist, Pavle Jovanovic (Tom’s River, N.J.), Steve Mesler (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Brock Kreitzberg (Akron, Ohio).
Hopes are high for the two American sleds. The U.S men won the silver and bronze medals at the UOP track in the 2002 Games and hopes are high for a repeat. After winning the silver and bronze in Salt Lake City just four years ago the United States has set its sights on the biggest prize, the gold medal.
Although not a medal favorite, Holcomb is confident about the race.
"They don’t have me coming into this weekend as a hopeful but they are not counting me out either," Holcomb told United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation media relations director Tom LaDue. "We’re still in the mix and by no means out of this thing."
The last two heats of the four-man event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Cesana Pariol track. For information about the Army World Class Athlete Program visit http://www.ArmyWCAP.com .
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