clear
Monday November 20th, 2017 12:12PM

US bobsledder Steven Holcomb, 37, found dead

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Steven Holcomb was simultaneously ordinary and remarkable.

America's best bobsled pilot was a self-described computer geek who would rub elbows with Hollywood stars. He was never exactly in the best of shape, yet was a world-class athlete. He attempted suicide years ago, then revealed his story with hopes of helping others. He was a man who nearly went blind, then became an Olympic gold medalist.

His life was the epitome of a bobsled race, filled with twists and turns.

It came to a most unexpected end Saturday in Lake Placid, New York, when he was found dead in his room at the Olympic Training Center — sending shock waves through the U.S. Olympic community, and devastating those who had known Holcomb for the entirety of his two-decade career in sliding.

The three-time Olympian, three-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champion was 37.

"The only reason why the USA is in any conversation in the sport of bobsled is because of Steve Holcomb," said U.S. bobsled pilot Nick Cunningham, who roomed next to Holcomb in Lake Placid. "He was the face of our team. He was the face of our sport. We all emulated him. Every driver in the world watched him, because he was that good at what he did. It's a huge loss, huge loss, not just for our team but for the entire bobsled community."

No cause of death was immediately announced. However, officials said there were no indications of foul play after the preliminary parts of an ongoing investigation were completed. USA Bobsled and Skeleton said it was believed Holcomb died in his sleep.

An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday. Funeral arrangements are expected to be finalized in the coming days.

"USA Bobsled and Skeleton is a family and right now we are trying to come to grips with the loss of our teammate, our brother and our friend," federation CEO Darrin Steele said.

Holcomb was a native of Park City, Utah, and his signature moment came at the 2010 Vancouver Games when he piloted his four-man sled to a win that snapped a 62-year gold-medal drought for the U.S. in bobsled's signature race.

Holcomb also drove to bronze medals in both two- and four-man events at the Sochi Games in 2014, and was expected to be part of the 2018 U.S. Olympic team headed to the Pyeongchang Games.

"The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb," U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said. "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 was still one of the world's elite drivers, finishing second on the World Cup circuit in two-man points and third in four-man points this past season.

The final victory of his career was last December in Lake Placid. He won 60 World Cup medals in his career, 10 more at the world championships and three in the Olympics, making him one of the most decorated pilots in the world.

"You will be loved, missed and remembered forever," U.S. women's pilot Jamie Greubel Poser wrote on Twitter.

Holcomb was an Eagle Scout and served as both a member of the Utah Army National Guard and the Army World Class Athlete Program. He was cherubic, almost always happy in public, someone whose sense of humor was well-known throughout the close-knit bobsled world. Teammates even spent a season chronicling his "Holcy Dance," a little less-than-rhythmic shuffle that he would do at each stop on the World Cup circuit to make fellow sliders laugh.

But there was also a troubled side, including battles with depression and alcohol, plus a failed hotel-room suicide attempt involving sleeping pills in 2007 which he wrote about in his autobiography, "But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold."

"After going through all that and still being here, I realized what my purpose was," Holcomb told the AP in a 2014 interview.

The depression, he believed, largely stemmed from his fight with a disease called keratoconus. Holcomb's vision degenerated to the point where he was convinced that his bobsled career was ending, and his mood quickly started going dark as well.

His eyesight was saved in a surgery that turned his 20-500 vision into something close to perfect, and his sliding career simply took off from there.

Winning gold with push athletes Steve Mesler, Curt Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen at the Vancouver Olympics turned Holcomb into a full-fledged star. In the months that followed, Holcomb met President Barack Obama, played golf with Charles Barkley, hung out with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes — they were then a couple — visited the New York Stock Exchange, threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Cleveland Indians game and went to the Indianapolis 500.

In the bobsled world, he was larger than life.

"We're all still in shock," Cunningham said. "I don't know if mourning will happen for a long time, because the shock part will take a while."

___

AP National Writer Eddie Pells in Denver contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Soggy Kentucky Derby day doesn't dampen party for some fans
Ponchos and rain boots are in fashion on a day usually devoted to sundresses and fancy suits at the Kentucky Derby
5:32PM ( 7 minutes ago )
US bobsledder Steven Holcomb, 37, found dead
US Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb, a three-time medalist, has been found dead
5:30PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen's death will be tough
Legal experts say authorities who've charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager's death face a tough task in getting a conviction
5:27PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Wild Shot rebounds for 8-1 upset in Pat Day Mile
Wild Shot rebounded from a seventh-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes to pull an 8-1 upset in the $250,000 Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Churchill Downs
3:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Celebs at Kentucky Derby include Sambora, Couric
The red carpet at the Kentucky Derby annually attracts a barrage of reality TV stars, athletes, media figures and other celebrities
2:56PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Trainer Brown wins 2nd Derby undercard race
Trainer Chad Brown won a second stakes Saturday on the Kentucky Derby undercard when Roca Rojo prevailed by a head in the $300,000 Distaff Turf Mile
2:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Gainesville: Arts Council Summer MusicFest lineup announced
The Arts Council's 2017 Summer MusicFest will feature the Joe Gransden Big Band featuring guest vocalist Annie Sellick, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Northwinds Symphonic Band, a Patriotic Pops Concert, Back in Time, and Riverstreet.
5:00PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Miley Cyrus takes to Instagram to clarify hip-hop remarks
Miley Cyrus, who drew attention with remarks about hip-hop music, has taken to Instagram to clarify that she respects all genres of music, but is also gravitating toward 'uplifting, conscious rap' and a more positive message.
1:22PM ( 4 hours ago )
Priyanka Chopra dismayed by child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe
Priyanka Chopra dismayed by child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe; visited as UN goodwill envoy
1:02PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Father of acting Wilson brothers dead at 76
Public TV station executive Robert A. Wilson, father of actors Luke, Owen and Andrew Wilson, dies in Dallas at 76
11:10PM ( 18 hours ago )
Country legend Loretta Lynn hospitalized after having stroke
Country music legend Loretta Lynn has been hospitalized after having a stroke
10:25PM ( 19 hours ago )
Country singer Loretta Lynn had stroke, hospitalized
country music legend Loretta Lynn's website says she has been hospitalized after having a stroke
7:59PM ( 21 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Soggy Kentucky Derby day doesn't dampen party for some fans
Ponchos and rain boots are in fashion on a day usually devoted to sundresses and fancy suits at the Kentucky Derby
5:32PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen's death will be tough
Legal experts say authorities who've charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager's death face a tough task in getting a conviction
5:27PM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Jockey Jose Ortiz gets 2nd win on Derby day
Limousine Liberal survived a sudden downpour and a stretch scramble to win the $500,000 Churchill Downs Sprint on Saturday
5:26PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Nigerian official says more Chibok girls have been released
Nigerian official: More Chibok schoolgirls released 3 years after abduction; number unknown
5:20PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Kanye West's Twitter, Instagram accounts go dark
Kanye West has apparently deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts, for reasons unknown
5:06PM ( 33 minutes ago )