- Posted January 29, 2013 by
San Antonio, Texas
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Salute to troops
Soldiers compete for Team USA on road to Winter Olympics
Three-time Olympian Sgt. Jeremy Teela, 36, seen here competing in the biathlon team relay event at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Whistler, B.C., Canada, is contending for his fourth Olympic berth in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
By Tim Hipps
SAN ANTONIO – Several Soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program are training and competing for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The strongest group is competing at the 2013 Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships in picturesque St. Moritz, Switzerland, home of the only naturally refrigerated track in the world.
Former WCAP bobsledder and reigning two-man world champion driver Steven Holcomb teamed with Steve Langton in the USA-1 sled to finish fourth in the two-man races on Jan. 26 and 27. Each team ran two heats each day and cumulative times determined the final standings.
Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Jannis Baecker won the gold medal with a cumulative time of 4 minutes, 22.78 seconds, followed by silver medalists Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter of Switzerland (4:23:34). Germany’s second duo of Thomas Florschuetz and Kevin Kuske/Andreas Bredau took the bronze with a 4:23.97 clocking.
Holcomb and Langton, the 2012 world champs, missed a spot on the podium by 0.08 seconds with a time of 4:24.05.
“I’m not the world champion anymore, or even a medalist, and it’s hard to say that,” said Holcomb, who spent eight years in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program before becoming an Olympic gold medalist in the four-man event. “Langton did his job, I did my job, but it just didn’t happen for us today.”
Cory Butner and WCAP Capt. Chris Fogt combined for their career-best World Championships finish in ninth place with a time of 4:24.81. Fogt’s previous best finish at St. Moritz was 16th place.
The WCAP duo of Sgt. Nick Cunningham and Sgt. Dallas Robinson finished 13th in 4:25.74. USA-3 lost velocity after a late load into the sled in the third heat, but Cunningham drove the final run to near perfection and gained one position.
All told, four Soldiers and one WCAP alumni were among six U.S. athletes in the two-man sleighs. They are candidates to compete in the four-man events Feb. 1-3. WCAP coaches 2nd Lt. Mike Kohn, Sgt. 1st Class Tuffy Latour and Sgt. Shauna Rohbock also are serving at the Bobsled World Championships.
Holcomb rebounded Sunday to anchor Team USA’s gold-medal performance in the bobsled and skeleton relay. Noelle Pikus-Pace took the lead on the women’s skeleton leg of the relay with a blistering-fast run of 1:08.92, which was 0.84 seconds faster than her nearest competitor.
“I think she beat most of the guys,” said John Daly, who was seventh-fastest in the men’s opening skeleton leg with a time of 1:08.61. “I’m glad I don’t have to race against her this weekend.”
Elena Meyers and Lolo Jones, a two-time Olympic hurdler, posted a time of 1:07:76 in the women’s bobsled heat to move Team USA into fourth place. After Pikus-Pace grabbed the lead, Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz secured the gold with a 1:06.00 in the two-man sled.
Another group of WCAP Soldiers will be competing Feb. 1-2 at the 2013 Luge World Championships in Whistler, B.C., Canada, on the same lightning-fast track that played host to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
WCAP Sgts. Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall, ranked No. 12 in the World Cup standings, will compete in doubles and perhaps the team event. Pvt. Emily Sweeney, who is expected to be in WCAP by next season, will make her first appearance in the World Championships fresh off a gold-medal performance Jan. 15 at the 2013 Junior World Championships in Park City, Utah.
WCAP Sgt. Bill Tavares serves as an assistant coach for Team USA. They will be joined by WCAP luger racers Sgt. Joseph Mortensen and Sgt. Isaac Underwood for a World Cup event Feb. 8-9 at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. National Guard Pfc. Taylor Morris also is in the mix.
Three-time Olympian WCAP Staff Sgt. Jeremy Teela, at age 35, continues to compete with Team USA’s best biathletes. He finished 39th overall and first among Americans in the 10-kilometer sprint with a time of 29 minutes, 23.1 seconds at IBU Cup No. 5 on Jan. 11-12 in Ostrov, Russia. In the 12.5k pursuit race, Teela finished 40th overall as the first American with a time of 40:10.7. Fellow Olympian Tim Burke and Teela remain the front-runners among biathlon contenders seeking to represent Team USA in Sochi.
Another WCAP Soldier, Sgt. Jen Lee of San Antonio, is in position to earn a trip to Sochi as a goalie for Team USA’s Paralympic sled hockey squad. The U.S. squad won the USA Hockey Sled Cup with a 4-0 record Jan. 23-26 at Indian Trail, N.C.
Lee played 30 minutes and made three saves in Game 1 against the U.S. Developmental Team. He had two saves in 15 minutes on the ice against Korea in Game 3.
The Sochi Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for Feb. 6-23, 2014.