Two years after his passing, Steven Holcomb remains a beloved figure in the U.S. bobsled community. Tonight in Los Angeles at the Team USA Awards, Holcomb will be honored once again when his team’s silver medals, reallocated after Russian medalists in 2014 were stripped of their medals due to doping offenses, are presented to his teammates and several members of his family.
Holcomb’s journey to Olympic stardom was long and difficult. He was born and raised in Park City, Utah, one of the epicenters of U.S. sliding sports, and just missed out on an opportunity to compete in the 2002 Olympics in his hometown at age 21.
Over the next 15 years, he won six overall World Cup titles and five world championships. He was still a consistent contender in his final season, finishing second in the two-man World Cup standings and third in the four-man.
He was also an inspirational figure in U.S. bobsled and skeleton from the beginning of his career. When he started sliding, his then-girlfriend, Tristan Gale, took up skeleton and won gold in 2002.
His shining moment was in 2010 in Vancouver, when he, Steve Mesler, Curt Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen became the first U.S. bobsledders to win gold in 62 years.
Getting to Vancouver itself was a miracle. He had been diagnosed with an eye problem called keratoconus that was robbing him of his sight. Though he adapted to driving by feel, the condition and the prospect of losing his bobsled career pushed him into depression, and he attempted suicide in 2007.
His vision was restored by eye surgeon Brian Boxer Wachler using a revolutionary technique now named after its most famous patient — Holcomb C3-R. He appeared with Boxer Wachler on the TV show “The Doctors” to talk about how the surgery changed his career and life, and he and Steve Eubanks wrote a book called “But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold.”
In the 2014 Olympics, he was on the podium again — twice. Steve Langton was with him in the two-man and four-man, while Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt filled out the four-man squad.
Those medals are being exchanged for silver tonight at the Team USA Awards, where his teammates and fellow medalists will be joined by his parents and sisters.
Holcomb passed away in his sleep in May 2017 and was honored in an emotional tribute the next month at Utah Olympic Park.
And he’s still present at Utah Olympic Park in an unusual way. Rails from one of his bobsleds are now door handles at athlete housing.
The awards ceremony will also honor the top male and female Olympic and Paralympic athletes and teams of the year, along with the top national coaches and the winner of the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award.
- Nathan Chen, figure skating
- Caeleb Dressel, swimming
- Brady Ellison, archery
- Vincent Hancock, shooting
- Noah Lyles, track and field
- Simone Biles, gymnastics
- Adeline Gray, wrestling
- Simone Manuel, swimming
- Dalilah Muhammad, track and field
- Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine skiing
- Equestrian jumping
- Women’s soccer
- Women’s softball
- Men’s 4x100m relay, track and field
- Women’s water polo
- Joe Berenyi, Para-cycling
- Noah Elliott, Para snowboarding
- Robert Griswold, Para swimming
- Daniel Romanchuk, Para track and field
- Ben Thompson, Para archery
- Kendall Gretsch, Para Nordic skiing and paratriathlon
- Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para-cycling
- Allysa Seely, paratriathlon
- Leanne Smith, Para swimming
- Deja Young, Para track and field
- Men’s Para archery
- Women’s sitting volleyball
- Sled hockey
- Men’s wheelchair basketball
- Men’s wheelchair rugby
The ceremony will be broadcast on NBC at 3 p.m. ET Dec. 22.
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