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Johnny Quinn closes the door on viral Olympic career

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If there are any locked doors in PyeongChang, Johnny Quinn won’t be there to bust out of them.

Quinn, the U.S. bobsledder who went viral for breaking through a bathroom in Sochi, will not pursue another Olympic berth. He has retired from the sport.

Quinn, 33, said he made the decision after three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcomb died in May.

“I really wanted to make another run at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but it just changed in circumstances,” said Quinn, whose last competition was finishing 12th in Nick Cunningham‘s four-man sled in Sochi. “After his passing, it was a re-evaluation. Things didn’t line up anymore as far as making a comeback.”

Quinn said he trained last year in advance of a possible return to the sport. He called a U.S. federation coach in summer 2016 to inform them of his interest in possibly returning for the 2017-18 season.

Quinn called that same coach this summer to say the comeback was off. He said his recent insurance venture, starting his own agency (JohnnyInsures.com), did not impact the decision.

“I’m going to miss being around the guys,” Quinn said. “Any type of team setting and the chemistry that you have between teammates, I’m going to miss that and the rush of the Olympics.”

Quinn capitalized on his Olympic breakout to become a public speaker, telling his story in front of Fidelity Investments, school assemblies and LiftMaster, a suburban Chicago company whose products include garage-door accessories.

“Breaking down the door opened the door to some opportunities,” Quinn said last year. “Had I known it was going to blow up, I would have saved some [pieces of the door], auctioned it off and give it to a charity or something.”

The U.S. Bobsled national team selection races are set for later this month, after which the World Cup team will be named. The Olympic team will be named in January, expected to be mostly or fully made up of athletes who compete in World Cups.

Two of the six push athletes from Sochi are back — Steven Langton and Chris Fogt — plus Justin Olsen, who switched from pushing to driving.

Other top contenders include recent crossover athletes like Quinn, a wide receiver who played four preseason games for the Green Bay Packers in 2008.

Cunningham said two weeks ago that Ryan Bailey, the 2012 Olympic 100m fifth-place finisher, will be in his sled for selection races. Bailey, who made the switch to bobsled last year, is back from a six-month doping ban that ended in July.

Sam McGuffie and Carlo Valdes, former college football players at Michigan/Rice and UCLA, respectively, will push for driver Codie Bascue, Cunningham said.

Langton and Fogt are with Olsen for selection races.

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MORE: U.S. bobsledders open season thinking of Steven Holcomb

Green Bay Packers bobsled celebration not Olympic standard (video)

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Jordy Nelson was once teammates with an athlete who went on to become a U.S. Olympic bobsledder.

Randall Cobb has apparently seen “Cool Runnings.”

But the Green Bay Packers wide receivers’ bobsled celebration on Sunday lacked something very important — a fourth man.

Nelson, Cobb and Davante Adams made up the rare three-man bobsled team after an Adams touchdown in Sunday’s 35-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Nelson, the brains behind the operation, according to Packers.com, may be familiar with one U.S. Olympian.

Johnny Quinn, who famously broke out of a locked bathroom in Sochi, spent the 2008 preseason with the Packers, when Nelson was a second-round rookie.

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MORE: U.S. teammates thinking of Steven Holcomb as season starts

U.S. bobsledders remember Steven Holcomb as Olympic season starts

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U.S. bobsledders took their first track walk of the Olympic season on Wednesday morning, following the winding curves in Lake Placid ahead of next week’s national team selection races.

They did so without Steven Holcomb, the quiet leader of the program who died five months ago.

“I know a lot of people are going to struggle getting on ice,” said Katie Eberling, a recently retired bobsled driver who was closer to Holcomb than anybody else on the team. “No one in the sport right now really knows bobsled without him.”

Katie Uhlaender, a three-time Olympic skeleton slider, said she’s competing this season in memory of Holcomb, a triple Olympic medalist whom she called her best friend.

Uhlaender was the first one to find Holcomb on that awful Saturday morning in May.

“I broke into his room because I knew something was wrong,” a tearful Uhlaender said last week. “He hadn’t talked to me in two days, which was weird, so I broke in.”

Holcomb was found dead in his sleep at age 37 inside his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.

He had more than the typical dosage of prescription sleeping pills and a blood-alcohol level above the threshold of intoxication in his system, according to a toxicology report.

Nick Cunningham, a two-time Olympic bobsled driver, was Holcomb’s next-door neighbor at the training center. If Holcomb coughed, Cunningham heard it.

Cunningham was in California when he learned of Holcomb’s death.

He and other team members did off-ice training in Calgary in the summer, but Cunningham believed Holcomb’s absence would sink in once they started taking runs down the Lake Placid track.

“The past 10 years in the sport, he’s taken the first trip down the hill,” Cunningham said last week. “I think, what we’re going to do is maybe have a little moment of silence for the first 55 seconds of the day, let the clock run. I think that will be good closure for a lot of athletes.”

Steven Langton was Holcomb’s right-hand man in Sochi, taking bronze medals in the two- and four-man events. It looked like those would be Langton’s final career runs, until he unretired in February.

After Holcomb’s death, Langton was often asked if he was reconsidering coming back now that his pilot was gone.

“I miss him every day,” Langton said. “I think about him every day, but the stuff I’m reminded by is all good stuff. I plan to carry that with me through the season.”

Carlo Valdes, a former UCLA wide receiver, picked up bobsledding after the Sochi Olympics and became a mainstay in Holcomb’s sled over the last three seasons.

Valdes was in the sled for four of Holcomb’s five World Cup podiums last season. No other U.S. driver has made a World Cup podium since December 2014.

Next week, Valdes will push for first-time Olympic hopeful Codie Bascue in the national team selection races.

“A lot of us made our peace, but at the same time it’s going to be a lot different this year,” Valdes said. “All of us had to continue on for [Holcomb], and to win multiple medals for him. It’s just a service to him, especially being on his sled for the past few years, you have to continue on, push on to achieve that goal for him. We had a goal, we wanted to win, and that’s still the goal.”

Valdes and others have considered putting decals on sleds with Holcomb’s initials. Or wearing wristbands. It’s likely that somebody will be driving Holcomb’s two-man sled this season.

Nobody has more tangible reminders than Eberling, who keeps a box of memories in her suburban Chicago home.

The eight Chicago Cubs shirts that Holcomb owned (Holcomb is from Utah, but Eberling is a longtime Cubs fan and they attended games together). Mixed CDs that Holcomb made of songs that made him think of Eberling. The podium flowers from one of Holcomb’s bronze medals in Sochi that he gave her.

Eberling and Holcomb accomplished a childhood dream together — beating Super Mario Bros.

They had long conversations in Target’s patio furniture section. They ordered the same breakfast at Lake Placid’s Chair 6 — the Chair Lift with the French toast substituted for sweet potato pancakes.

Eberling, before speaking at both of Holcomb’s memorial services in Lake Placid and Park City, wrote down every memory, read every message between them and looked at every picture from her six years knowing him.

“One day, I told him I was sad because my favorite scent from Bath & Body Works had been discontinued,” she said in her speech at the services. “He got in touch with someone from the company and surprised me with an entire box of it. He told me he didn’t want me to start smelling bad.”

That was Holcomb’s dry humor. Eberling does not want to forget moments like that.

“I want people to remember Steve as more than an incredible bobsled pilot,” she said.

The night Holcomb was named to his third Olympic team in 2014, he did not celebrate. He chose to stay behind and comfort Eberling, who on that same day was left off of it.

“It’s crazy to have so much I want to tell him,” Eberling said on the phone last week, before pausing to collect her next thought. “The hardest part that I want to sink in is that I’m not going to see him again.”

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MORE: Eberling at peace with bobsled retirement