Three pilots and 12 push athletes were named to the U.S. men’s national bobsled team on Friday night following the conclusion of a highly competitive USA Bobsled National Team Trials in Lake Placid, New York, that was delayed several times because of unseasonably warm weather.
This season marks the first time in 19 years that the national team is without Steven Holcomb, who died in May. Holcomb is the most decorated U.S. bobsledder in history as a three-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champion.
"It's been a challenge for the team to move forward without the security of knowing we could count on Steven Holcomb to pull us through," said USABS CEO Darrin Steele. "Every one of these athletes and coaches has accepted this unfamiliar dynamic for finding success at the Olympic Games with an unspoken mantra: 'If it's to be, it's up to me.' I'm proud of the character they've shown and I look forward to seeing what they can do on the world stage."
2012 Youth Olympian Codie Bascue was named the pilot of USA-1, taking the reigns from Holcomb, who drove USA-1 for the entirety of the career of every athlete still in the sport. Bascue, who is entering his fourth season on the world cup tour, won the two-man trials race and finished second on Friday morning in the four-man race.
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Two-time Olympian Justin Olsen was named pilot of USA-2, marking his ninth world cup season. Olsen, who won gold in Steven Holcomb’s four-man sled as a brakeman in 2010, finished second to Bascue in the two-man race and had to miss Friday’s four-man race because he left for South Korea for training on the Olympic track on Wednesday. Two-time Olympian Nick Cunningham won the four-man race and was named pilot of USA-3, making his sixth world cup team and a return to the circuit after missing out last season.
The 12 brakemen are highlighted by two-time Olympians Chris Fogt and Steve Langton, who earned bronze in Holcomb’s four-man sled at the 2014 Olympics. Langton also earned bronze in two-man. Both athletes walked away from the sport following Sochi, but returned last season and now make their first world cup team since the 2013-14 season.
The other national team veterans selected to the 2017-18 team include Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, Christopher Kinney, Sam McGuffie, Sam Michener, Jimmy Reed, Nic Taylor, Carlo Valdes and Evan Weinstock. Taylor is the husband of two-time world champion women’s driver Elana Meyers Taylor.
Meanwhile, two athletes are making their national team debut: 2012 Olympic sprinter Ryan Bailey and U.S. Army Special Forces soldier Nathan Weber.
Bailey is joined by fellow Olympic track athlete Lolo Jones, who is on her fourth women’s bobsled national team.
"I am beyond impressed by the talent of the push athletes on the men's team," Steele said. "We expect to have competitive push teams heading into the Olympic season, but we rarely see this depth; and it's a testament to the commitment of the athletes and coaches that we have come so far with so many new faces. I did not expect the selection of this team to be anywhere near this difficult. That's a good problem to have, but it's hard knowing that there are some fantastic athletes that did not get named to the national team. The Olympic dream is not over for them, but their jobs just got tougher."
The world cup tour starts in the U.S. with stops in Lake Placid from Nov. 9-10 and Park City, Utah, Nov. 17-18.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.