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  • Steven Holcomb, 37, Olympic Bobsleigh Champion


    05/08/17

    (ATR) More tests are needed to determine the cause of death of Olympic bobsleigh gold medalist Steven Holcomb.
    Holcomb won gold in Vancouver, two bronze in Sochi (USBSF)

    The 37-year-old was found dead in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid on Saturday. 

    An autopsy performed at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, New York, revealed that the 37-year-old bobsled driver died with fluid in his lungs, according to Essex County coroner Francis Whitelaw. However, that alone was not enough to draw a conclusion as to why Holcomb died – and no determination will be made until toxicology tests are completed, which could take several weeks.

    The three-time Olympian died in his sleep.

    Holcomb drove his four-man crew, with teammates Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz, to an Olympic gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Games, ending the U.S. 62-year gold medal drought in the sport. The Park City, Utah native also won bronze medals in both the two and four-man event at the Sochi 2014 Games.

    Holcomb came off a strong season in which he finished top three in both the two and four-man World Cup standings. Steve was a five-time overall World Cup champion and a five-time world champion. Having competed for the U.S. since 1998, Holcomb was once again considered a legitimate Olympic medal contender for February’s PyeongChang Games.

    “The IBSF Family mourns the death of Steven Holcomb. Our thoughts are with his Family, teammates and the US Federation,” said International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation president Ivo Ferriani.

    “Steven was not just a very talented pilot but a very well respected athlete. His politeness and respect to anybody on the track was so typical for him. He will always be remembered not only for his sports achievements but also for his way of touching the hearts of our fans and spectators.”

    From personal experience, Holcomb was a friendly, outgoing, respectful and polite guy around the Utah Olympic Park bobsled track. He was a guest on my morning show in Park City just a few weeks after he drove his first bobsled down the track. Steve’s immediate passion and exhilaration towards the sport was evident, but I never imagined he would ascend to become an Olympic champion.

    "The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb,” said Scott Blackmun, United States Olympic Committee CEO. “Steve was a tremendous athlete and even better person, and his perseverance and achievements were an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family and the entire bobsledding community.”

    Holcomb (right) and Langton interviewed after winning 2-man bronze medal in Sochi (ATR)
    The veteran U.S. bobsledder was a regular source for Around the Rings, always willing to offer a candid opinion whether it be regarding the Olympic spirit, Olympic venue preparations or calling for justice following the Russian doping scandal.

    In Sochi 2014, Holcomb battled through a painful calf injury in the two-man competition and was almost unable to compete. He persevered and won the first of his two bronze medals.

    “When you’re in third place, it’s a lot easier to deal with the pain,” Holcomb said.

    Holcomb’s teammate in Sochi Steven Langton tweeted: “So many special memories shared with our friend. Steve, you will be dearly missed.

    Holcomb, along with more than 100 U.S. Winter Olympic hopefuls was in Los Angeles just last week for a NBC Sports PyeongChang 2018 promotional shoot.

    Born and raised in Park City, Utah, Holcomb took up the sport in 1998 as a push athlete. When the 2002 Olympics were in his backyard, Holcomb started driving competitively.

    Holcomb overcame a degenerative eye disease which slowly was causing him to go blind, having undergone a procedure in 2008. The treatment restored Holcomb's vision from 20-500 to 20-20, although he admitted that the problems led to bouts of depression Following the successful procedure, Holcomb became one of the elite drivers in the sport.

    "Going from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, it was such a surreal moment," Holcomb said when his vision was restored.

    “Viewing his life and his return after his eye surgery he was and will always be a role model for all our athletes: you can achieve it if you don´t give up and love what you are doing,” Ferriani said.

    “Very sad to hear the terrible news about Steven Holcomb,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. “He was already a sporting legend. He was hugely appreciated by his fellow competitors and everybody in the Olympic sport.”

    The cause and manner of Holcomb's passing remain pending toxicology studies to be performed by an independent laboratory. The report declared that a preliminary screen performed at the center was negative for drugs and there is no suspicion of foul play.

    As the bobsled and skeleton community mourns Holcomb's untimely death, USA Bobsled & Skeleton has created a tribute page gathering memories from athletes, coaches and fans throughout the sporting community. It can be found at http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Bobsled-Skeleton-Federation/Features/2017/May/07/Remembering-Steven-Holcomb.

    Written by Brian Pinelli

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