(L-R) Women's bobsled silver medalists Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams and bronze medalists Aja Evans and Jamie Greubel pose after the flower ceremony at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 19, 2014.
Last Sunday, bobsledders Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton, and luger Erin Hamlin returned to Lake Placid, N.Y., their home-away-from-home training ground, for a parade. With their Olympic medals hanging around their necks, they walked down Main Street and signed autographs.
|Two-time bonze medalists Steven Holcomb (L) and Steve Langton
Just beyond the end of Main Street, The Cottage, a lakeside pub owned by silver-medal-winning skier Andrew Weibrecht’s parents, created cocktails in the medalists’ honor: the Holky (for Holcomb — champagne and Goldschlager), the Nitro (for Langton — Dewar’s and soda), the Hambone (for Hamlin — Crown Royal and ginger ale) and the Warhorse (for Weibrecht — two of his favorite beers, layered).
“I got the email [from The Cottage] that asked, ‘If you were going to have a drink, what would you have? And do you have a nickname?’” said Hamlin.
With drink in hand, Hamlin and everyone else could then toast to a great season for the U.S. sliding sports. In total, the U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes won 38 world cup medals this season and six Olympic medals — at least one in each Olympic event.
Holcomb and Langton won two of those Olympic medals: In a carbon-fiber BMW two-man bobsled and Bo-Dyn’s redesigned Night Train2. Holcomb is the first U.S. bobsledder to earn three Olympic medals.
“Pretty sure this is a dream come true since I was.........younger?!?” Holcomb tweeted recently. Except he was talking about an article in Playboy, a Q&A he and Langton had done in Sochi about the BMW sled.
Given the success of the BMW sleds (three of the six Olympic medals), U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele is working with the company to extend their agreement. Meanwhile, the Bo-Dyn Project is meeting internally next week to discuss the next steps with the Night Train and Night Train2 programs. Holcomb won his gold medal in the original Night Train four-man sled in 2010 and claimed bronze in the Night Train2.
|Bronze medalist Erin Hamlin
In luge, the Americans won five world cup medals, including two silver medals in the team event. Then Hamlin capped off the season with USA Luge’s first-ever singles Olympic medal. It was a testament to both the sliders’ hard work and support from Norton Saint-Gobain, for restructuring the steel recipe, and Dow, for providing advanced runners for the lugers.
Since returning from Sochi, most of the sliders have been making TV and sponsor appearances. Hamlin even scored an invitation to an Academy Awards viewing party in Hollywood where she met one of her favorite actors, Ben Affleck.
Although she hasn’t had a minute to think about her future, Hamlin is definitely returning for the 2014-15 season.
“It’s a stupid time to hang it up when sliding is starting to go really well, and I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “That was a big thing with the Games. I was able to have fun. I love to slide, so it was really loving what I was doing instead of going crazy and psyching myself out about getting results. It was a good mindset. So now that I’ve been able to race in that mindset, I’m going to try to do it again.”
Silver-medal-winning bobsledder Elana Meyers wasn’t at the Lake Placid parade, even though she spends much of the year training there. Nor was she home in Georgia planning her April 24 wedding to fellow slider Nic Taylor. Since March 1, she has been at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., practicing with USA Rugby’s sevens team. Invited by sevens head coach Ric Suggitt, Meyers has a one-month contract to train with the team and hopes to make the world series team competing in China on April 5-6, then potentially the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team competing in Rio.
“Full contact practice today ... my body hurts @USARugby #crossoverathleteprobs,” Meyers tweeted earlier this week.
|Bronze medalist Matt Antoine and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace
Meyers’ Olympic brakewoman Lauryn Williams — the fifth person to medal in both the summer and winter Olympic Games — is not sure what her future holds. Since the Sochi games, the 30-year-old sprinter/bobsled pusher has been asked countless times, “What next?”
“Is it bad that I want to yell I DONT KNOW, can I have some time to think about it?” she wrote in a blog titled “The Big Question” on her website.
Williams listed several career options and interests, including financial planning, helping/hosting an Olympian, healthy food education, and becoming fluent in Spanish. Not listed was “continuing to bobsled.”
The only bobsledders who have officially retired are Dallas Robinson and Chris Fogt. Except Fogt might come back in 2016 if he’s still in shape. The 30-year-old push athlete, who earned his first Olympic medal in Sochi, reports back for active duty at Arizona’s Fort Huachuca on May 5. He’s a captain in the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence branch and at home in Utah, he and his wife are expecting their first child soon.
Fogt is unsure where the Army will send him. After the Vancouver Games, he deployed to Iraq. Asked if he will take his Olympic bronze medal with him, he said, “Absolutely, I’m never taking this off.”
After winning an Olympic silver medal in Sochi, Noelle Pikus-Pace has retired from skeleton for a second time. But this time it’s likely for good. The mother of two came out of retirement in 2012 with the goal of winning an Olympic medal. Job done.
Katie Uhlaender, who missed an Olympic medal in skeleton by 0.04 of a second, is back in Kansas tagging cows on her family’s ranch. She will soon gear up for weightlifting and a shot at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Matt Antoine is one of the few sliding Olympians who continued competing after Sochi. The Olympic bronze medalist won the 2014 U.S. National Skeleton Championships in Lake Placid on March 7. In the next quadrennial, Antoine would like to win a world cup overall title and then another Olympic medal in 2018.
“As impressive as we were in Sochi, it was just a stepping stone en route to a new era in bobsled and skeleton for the U.S.,” USBSF CEO Steele said. “We were far from perfect, but we will learn from our mistakes so we can be even stronger in PyeongChang four years from now.”
As for Hamlin’s plans for 2018, she hedged. “I’m not going to say no, but I’m not going to commit to another four years yet.”
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.