PARK CITY, Utah -- Codie Bascue couldn’t ask for a better start to his first Olympic season.
The 23-year-old bobsled driver who has been in the sport since age 8 launched the year he’s been waiting most of his life for by winning bronze and gold in two-man races in Lake Placid, New York last week.
The bronze, earned with Carlo Valdes, marked the first world cup medal of his career, while the next day’s gold, won with Sam McGuffie, was the first gold of his world cup career.
“It was crazy. I didn’t really go into the weekend expecting to do so well, but just to come out of Lake Placid with two podium finishes and my first-ever gold medal was amazing and more than I could have imagined going into the season,” Bascue said. “I think it was just a great way to start the season and gave us some confidence going forward.”
He proudly displayed that confidence Saturday night in Park City, winning a silver medal in four-man for the first medal of his career in that event. Bascue was pushed by Special Forces Green Beret Nate Weber, along with Valdes and McGuffie.
“It’s amazing,” Bascue said of his third-straight historic medal. “Starting everything off last week in two-man, getting both my first podium and my first gold, I really wanted to come in this weekend and shoot for my first four-man medal.”
The German sled driven by Johannes Lochner won the race in a time of 1:35.44, with Bascue 0.05 seconds back and the Great Britain team led by Bradley Hall 0.07 seconds behind Bascue for bronze.
The silver medal was redemption for the last time Bascue raced four-man on a home track. At last year’s Lake Placid World Cup, Bascue finished fourth – just 0.05 seconds off the podium.
“Last year I was so close in Placid and it was heartbreaking. It’s just nice to be there this year,” he explained.
Bascue’s first four-man medal didn’t come without hiccups, though. Since the Lake Placid four-man was canceled and turned into a second two-man race due to weather conditions, it was made up in Park City. In his first four-man race of the season Friday, Bascue and team finished seventh. They were the top American team, but it was far from what Bascue felt he was capable of achieving.
Snow dumped on the Utah Olympic Park for much of Friday before the four-man race, which Bascue blamed for significantly snowing the team’s first push. Their push in the second run was 0.08 seconds faster, though he made more mistakes in his driving that time.
“There were some inconsistencies yesterday – some we couldn’t control, some we could,” Bascue said Saturday, looking back on their first four-man. “I figured if we could come in to this race where the weather was a little more cooperative and be a little more consistent on both the push and drive that we could do well, and we did just that.”
Bascue knows the rest of the season will present challenges as the circuit moves away from Team USA’s home tracks to Whistler, British Columbia next week before heading overseas to five intimidating European tracks.
But with the team he has (literally) behind him, Bascue is confident that strong results will follow such a strong group dynamic.
“I’ve never had such camaraderie with the four guys in my sled and I think just that cohesiveness between each other really translates into going fast and pushing fast,” he said. “We go into each week knowing we can push fast, and I think the guys trust me to do my job so we’re going into each week confident.”
Bascue wasn’t the only one on his team to have a first on Saturday. Nate Weber also earned his first world cup medal – in either two- or four-man – and in only the second world cup race of his career. The first came Friday night with Bascue.
As Weber celebrated with his teammates on the finish dock, he appeared to have a permanent smile on his face, saying he was "giddy" by the team’s performance and his new normal as a member of the world cup team.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t even put it into words – to have everyone out here watching, in front of a home crowd, it’s really huge” Weber said. “It’s been six years in the making, to finish it like this is absolutely outstanding.”
Weber tried bobsled in 2012 after reading an article about Justin Olsen, who won Olympic gold just three years after getting his start in the sport.
Since then the 30-year-old has won a handful of medals on the North American Cup tour, but it wasn’t until this season – his sixth in the sport – that he made the national team.
As it turns out, the world cup stage fits him well.
“It’s exhilarating, I love it,” Weber said of competing on world cup. “When the lights are on, the pressure’s on, I absolutely love that. So seeing this and being on this stage and having my teammates to help me and to fire me up, it’s amazing; we just feed off each other the whole time.”
Weber credits the teamwork and drive he has learned as part of Special Forces with helping him succeed in bobsled.
And with the 2018 Olympic team being selected in less than two months, Weber’s performance in Park City made his case a little stronger for going to South Korea and representing his country in a whole new manner.
“That would be absolutely amazing,” he said of making the Olympic team. “I don’t even want to start to think that far ahead… But I’m feeling very hopeful about it. Being able to serve my country, to represent Special Forces and to represent the Olympic team with that on my back would be the most amazing experience that I can think of.”