PARK CITY, Utah -- At an age when most kids are playing youth soccer or Little League baseball, Codie Bascue embarked on a completely different sports path. Bascue devoted his spare time to making runs down the bobsled track starting at 8 years old.
Bobsledding offered an element those other sports just couldn’t match. Once Bascue felt the adrenaline rush of racing down an icy track at breakneck speed, he was hooked.
That adrenaline rush hasn’t changed a bit now that he’s competing with the U.S. national team.
“It never changes,” Bascue, now 21, said. “Every run is different. You never know what to expect.”
Bascue has evolved at a rapid pace within the sport. Only four years ago, he was competing in the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, where he finished seventh. From there he moved on to rack up a ton of gold medals in North American Cup races over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
Today he is a pilot for Team USA on the world cup circuit and a prospect for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Bascue has shown remarkable progress in his development as a slider along the way.
“For his age, he’s ahead of the game,” U.S. coach and Brian Shimer said. “He’s got a natural feel for the ice.”
Bascue became serious about growing in the sport when he competed in the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. From the moment he witnessed the Opening Ceremony, Bascue’s eyes opened to the possibilities ahead.
Bobsledding had always been an outlet for fun and thrills. At that moment, it turned into a full-fledged passion that would become a focal point in his life.
“It really made me want to strive for the full Olympic experience,” Bascue said.
Preparing for the Olympic Winter Games has presented a whole new set of fun challenges. Bascue has had to adjust to facing top-level competition at every race. He has dedicated a lion’s share of time and energy in the summers just to boost his strength, speed and size so he can put himself on equal footing with elite sliders from countries such as Germany, Latvia and Russia, not to mention Team USA.
Reaching that level isn’t a simple task. Tenths of a second are all that separates these athletes on the track. Even a minor hesitation on a start can be enough to cost a win or even a podium finish.
Bascue and his four-man teammates had to endure that sort of disappointment on Friday when they competed in the Park City World Cup race. They were in ninth place after a first run of 48.19 seconds. But a faulty start on the second run led to a finishing time of 48.93, dropping them to a 13th place in a 21-team field with a total time of 1:37.12.
For his part, Bascue embraces a big-picture mentality. He understands qualifying for the Winter Games is a process of many steps. One run in one race does not define it all.
“You just have to realize it’s one run,” Bascue said. “It’s not going to make or break your career. You just have to come back the next day, figure out what caused the bad run and work on it.”
Shimer, himself a five-time Olympian, said Bascue has an advantage over many past athletes who have become pilots for the U.S. bobsled team. His experience at a young age has helped him make the transition to the front seat much faster. Bascue hasn’t experienced as steep of a learning curve as some teammates and he’s been able to target and strengthen weaknesses much easier.
If Bascue continues on his current development trajectory, Shimer believes he will have good odds of competing for medals at more than one Olympics down the road.
“He’s a pretty gifted pilot,” Shimer said.
Bascue has already made it nearly halfway through the four-year cycle leading up to the 2018 Winter Games. It feels a little surreal for him knowing the goal that has framed his daily training is so close to being within his grasp.
“It really comes at you faster than you think,” Bascue said.
John Coon is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.