Justin Olsen, part of the 2010 U.S. Olympic champion four-man bobsled team that ended a 62-year drought, became on Wednesday the last member of that quartet to end his competitive career.
“It seems an impossible task to encapsulate the memories, relationships, accomplishments, and struggles that have transpired over the past 13 years,” the 33-year-old Olsen wrote, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “My desire to be part of a team and continue to compete at an extremely high level was all I needed to say yes to bobsled. Everything that followed was a bonus.”
Olsen wrote that he was sidelined by injury over the past year. He last raced internationally in February 2019.
Minutes after the retirement announcement, U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton announced Olsen was hired as a start coach for the program.
“I spent some time coaching last season since I couldn’t be in a sled, and I found out that I had a blast doing it,” he said in a press release. “I realized that my ability to have an impact on people was much greater as a coach than as an athlete. It’s the right time to make this transition.”
In 2010, Olsen was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in Vancouver. The Texan had played football until 2006, including tight end at Air Force. He took up bobsled in 2007 after two football-related knee surgeries. Olsen’s mom, Kim, encouraged him after hearing about tryouts on the radio.
After one season, he earned a place on the top U.S. four-man sled driven by Steven Holcomb. In 2009, Olsen, along with Holcomb, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz, won the U.S.’ first four-man world title since 1959.
The following year, they won the U.S.’ first Olympic men’s bobsled title since 1948, riding the Night Train.
“What an incredible ride it was,” Olsen wrote in his retirement announcement. “Thank you for taking a chance on a young 21 year old.”
Olsen finished 10th in the U.S. No. 2 bobsled in 2014. Then he switched to driving and placed 14th and 20th in 2018, competing 13 days after an emergency appendectomy.
Olsen joined the National Guard after the Vancouver Games and, as of the PyeongChang Olympics, was a sergeant in the World Class Athlete Program.
NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.
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