First U.S. bobsledder qualifies for PyeongChang Olympics

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In his junior year, Codie Bascue lost a playoff game as quarterback for Whitehall High School, a small New York town on the Vermont border.

As soon as the game ended, he hopped in his parents’ truck and drove 34 hours with them straight to Park City, Utah. For a bobsled camp.

“I liked football a lot, but I think I knew I was better at bobsled, and that would probably be where I’d go,” Bascue said. “I think the decision was made [to do bobsled rather than focusing on college] well before I graduated [high school].”

Seven years later, Bascue is going to the Olympics.

Bascue became the first U.S. bobsledder to qualify for PyeongChang as the nation’s top-ranked four-man pilot this season, according to TeamUSA.org. His spot on the team will become official once a selection committee nominates the team on Jan. 15.

The 23-year-old ranks sixth in the world. Bascue earned his first World Cup medals in November, starting with two-man bronze and gold in Lake Placid, where he learned to bobsled.

Bascue’s grandfather and school principal used to drive him and 10 to 15 other kids in two vans 90 minutes each way to slide at the 1980 Olympic venue.

It started when Bascue was 8, and he made those trips regularly for several years on weekends in December, January and February.

Bascue made his world championships debut in 2011 as a push athlete, then finished seventh as a driver at the 2012 Youth Olympics. He was the U.S.’ No. 4 driver in 2014, missing the Olympic team by one spot.

U.S. men earned three bobsled medals between 2010 and 2014. The driver behind all of those highlights was Steven Holcomb, who died unexpectedly in May.

The rest of the PyeongChang bobsled team will be decided by early next week.

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