Skeleton slider John Daly is coming out of a two-year-retirement, seeking to make a third Olympic team after heartbreak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
“I didn’t have anything else that made me feel the way sliding did,” Daly said, according to The Associated Press. “I have a great life. I’m not complaining. But nothing made me feel more alive than the Olympics.”
Daly was in fourth place after three of four runs at the Sochi Olympics, .04 of a second behind teammate Matt Antoine for bronze-medal position.
His medal hopes evaporated with a slip at the start of his final run, his sled came out of a groove in the ice and he had no chance of recovering the rest of the way down the track.
Daly finished 15th, came to a stop with his helmet buried in his hands and spoke through tears afterward.
“I don’t regret anything,” Daly said on NBC that night, “but I do wish I could get that last run back for just one more chance. … Now I have four more years to wait.”
After Sochi, Daly went to “a really dark place” and “ran away from everything,” according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton.
“The last picture anyone saw was that awful picture of me sliding through the finish with my head in my hands,” Daly said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “That picture and that last interview where I was trying my hardest to keep it together choking back tears. It was horrible. I was completely devastated. My world fell apart in an instant.”
He decided by June 2014 to end his skeleton career, moving to Washington, D.C., and taking a medical sales job.
But as time went on, Daly began to miss the sport.
“I started to get a tiny smolder of a flame back,” he said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton, which added that he re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool in March, the same month he was, jokingly he claimed, a forerunner at the U.S. Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Daly will be eligible to compete for a place on the World Cup team after he completes five competitions on three different tracks.
Olympic bronze medalist Matthew Antoine remains the class of U.S. men’s skeleton, though no Americans made a World Cup podium last season.
“Couldn’t go out like that,” Daly said of Sochi, according to the AP. “I owe this to myself and Team USA.”Follow @nzaccardi