Born on April 14, 1980, in Park City, Utah, Steve Holcomb made the U.S. national bobsled team at age 18. He won the two-man and combined World Cup titles in 2007, despite suffering from a condition that was eroding his sight and exacting a huge emotional toll. After undergoing a corrective procedure, Holcomb piloted the U.S. team to the gold medal in the four-man event at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Olympic bobsledder Steven Paul Holcomb was born on April 14, 1980, in Park City, Utah. A self-described thrill seeker as a child, he became involved in alpine ski racing and attended the Park City Winter Sports High School.
Holcomb tried out for the U.S. men's national bobsled team at age 18 and barely tallied the minimum score on the physical test to qualify. Although he was initially bypassed due to his age, he made the team as a pusher after another athlete was injured.
Competitive Bobsledding Career
Holcomb competed in his first World Cup race in November 1998 and made a few appearances as a brakeman in the following years. He made the switch to driver after a hamstring injury knocked him out of contention for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, and proved an immediate success in that role by winning six of eight races in 2002.
Olympic Career and Personal Struggles
Holcomb made his Winter Olympics debut at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, then won both the two-man and combined World Cup titles in 2007. Amazingly, he scored these achievements despite suffering from keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that was slowly making him blind. Holcomb compensated by using his other senses to navigate the treacherous bobsled tracks at high speed, but the strain of his condition left him depressed, and he attempted suicide by overdosing on pills.
In 2008, Holcomb underwent an experimental procedure in which a lens was placed behind the iris of each eye. The operation was successful, but resulted in an unanticipated side effect: After years of performing by "feel," Holcomb essentially had to learn to drive all over again with functioning eyesight.
2010 Winter Olympics and World Championships
At the wheel of a new sled dubbed "Night Train," Holcomb and his crew ended a 50-year drought for the United States by winning the four-man title at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, New York. The Night Train crew then rose to the occasion for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, winning the four-man event for the United States' first Olympic bobsled medal since 1948.
Holcomb proved he was still on top of his game by winning both the two- and four-man events at the 2012 World Championships in Lake Placid. Entering the 2013 season with a new sled, he began training to possibly become part of the first American team since 1932 to win back-to-back Olympic golds in the harrowing sport.
2014 Sochi Olympics
Holcomb qualified for the USA-1 bobsled team for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and did not disappoint. Although having injured his leg during his second heat, Holcomb recovered in time to compete in the two-man bobsledding event. He and his partner, Steven Langton, placed third, earning the U.S. a bronze medal. The Olympic victory drew headlines becasue Holcomb became the first bobsled driver from the U.S. to medal in the event in 62 years, his second 62-year record-breaking run—in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Holcomb's first place victory as part of the four-man bobsled event was the first gold medal won by the U.S. team in 62 years.
In Holcomb's final event in the 2014 Winter Olympics, the four-man bobsled competition, he and his teammates—Curt Tomasevicz, Chris Fogt and Langton—took home the third place medal. With two bronze medals under his belt, Holcomb's win signified yet another end to a 62-year drought for the U.S., with the last bobsled driver to have won a pair of medals in the same Olympic games being in 1952.
Holcomb joined the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program in 1999 and served as a member of the Utah National Guard until he was honorably discharged in 2006.
Having taken classes in computer programming from the University of Phoenix and DeVry University, the gold medalist is an A+ and Network+ certified technician and Microsoft certified professional.
The end of 2012 brought the release of Holcomb's biography, But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold, in which he detailed the physical and emotional struggles that nearly ended both his career and his life.
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