Sochi 2014: The Luge Behind Them, It’s On to the ‘Bobsleigh’ for our Soldier-Athletes
Our military team did not fare too well in what is considered to be one of the most risky Olympic winter sports — the luge.
Sgt. Preston Griffall and Sgt. Matt Mortensen finished 14th in the luge doubles after skidding in turn five of their second run at the Sanki Sliding Center Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Army.
Griffall, 29, a member of the Utah National Guard, is on active duty with the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Mortensen, 28, is a member of the WCAP and the New York National Guard.
U.S. Army Sgt. William Tavares, left, the Team USA luge coach, provides last-minute instructions before handing the sled to U.S. Army Sgts. Preston Griffall, center, and Matt Mortensen, right, for their first heat of the Olympic luge doubles event at Sanki Sliding Centre in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Feb. 12, 2014.
Germany won gold in luge doubles, Austria took silver and Latvia the bronze.
The 14th place finish cost the two WCAP athletes the chance to compete in the inaugural Olympic team relay today, an event where Germany won gold.
One consolation for Team USA was New York native Erin Hamlin winning a bronze medal in Olympic women’s luge singles to become the first female American to win a luge medal at any winter Olympics.
The next events in which our military athletes will be participating are the two- and four-men bobsled events — “bobsleigh as officially called at the Winter Olympics — starting February 16.
U. S. Army Sgt. Nick Cunningham, the bobsled driver, and Army Sgt. Dallas Robinson, the brakeman, are clocked at 81.4 mph as the seventh-fastest among 30 sleds in the second heat of Olympic two-man bobsled training with a time of 57.19 seconds at Sanki Sliding Centre in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 13, 2014.
The following soldier-athletes will be in those vents:
Sgt. Nick Cunningham, 28, with the New York National Guard, will be heading to his second winter Olympics, driving the USA-2 bobsled in both the two- and four-man events.
Capt. Christopher Fogt, 30, will be brakeman for the USA-1 bobsled driven by former WCAP athlete Steven Holcomb, who is the defending gold medalist in the four-man event from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Sgt. Justin Olsen, 26, will be one of three pushers on USA-1. He enlisted with the New York Army National Guard in 2011.
Sgt. Dallas Robinson, 31, will be making his first Olympic appearance as a pusher for the USA-2 bobsled.
A little history on the “bobsleigh” event from Sochi 2004
Bobsleigh entered the Olympic Winter Games program in 1924 in Chamonix. At that time the competition took place between four — man bobsleds (sledges), by 1928 four — or five — man bobsleds were competing, and only men took part in the bobsleigh events. In 1932 (with the exception of the Games in Squaw Valley in 1960, where there was no luge and bobsleigh track) a two — men bobsleigh competition was introduced alongside the four — person bobsleds event. In October 1999, women’s bobsleigh was added to the Olympic Winter Games program and women competed for the first time in the two-person event at Salt Lake City in 2002.
We wish our soldier-athletes success.
All images and captions: DOD