Justin Olsen

Justin Olsen
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Justin Olsen is last bobsledder to retire from 2010 Olympic champion team

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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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Olympic bobsled team includes Green Beret, ex-Michigan running back

Sam McGuffie
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The U.S. Olympic men’s bobsled team includes a Green Beret.

Nate Weber, a 31-year-old Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, made his first Olympic team.

As did Sam McGuffie, a former highly recruited running back who played at Michigan and Rice.

They join a team that includes Olympic champion Justin Olsen and Sochi medalists Steven Langton and Chris Fogt.

The drivers are Olsen, Nick Cunningham and Codie Bascue.

Weber, McGuffie, Langton and Fogt are push athletes, along with Evan Weinstock, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, Chris Kinney, Sam Michener and Carlo Valdes.

The full driver and push athlete combinations:

Four-Man
Bascue-Weinstock-Langton-McGuffie
Cunningham-Abdul-Saboor-Kinney-Michener
Olsen-Weber-Valdes-Fogt

Two-Man
Bascue-McGuffie
Cunningham-Abdul-Saboor
Olsen-Weinstock

It’s the first U.S. Olympic bobsled team without Steven Holcomb since 2002. Holcomb was found dead in his Olympic training center room on May 6. He was 37.

Holcomb drove U.S. medal-winning sleds in 2010 (four-man gold with Olsen among others) and 2014 (two- and four-man bronze with Langton (both), Fogt (four-man) and Curt Tomasevicz (four-man).

The Sochi medals are in line to be upgraded to silvers after Russian gold-medal sleds were stripped due to doping.

Bascue, Cunningham and Olsen combined to earn five World Cup medals this season, all on U.S. tracks. The world’s top-ranked sleds are from Germany and Canada.

Weber has been bobsledding since 2012 and made his World Cup debut this season.

He picked up the sport after reading about Olsen, who won a 2010 Olympic gold medal while serving in the Army. Weber was completing Special Forces training at the time, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton.

“I thought to myself, ‘If he can do it, I can do it,'” Weber said, according to USABS, which added that Weber spent summers in this Olympic cycle deployed in Niger, Cameroon and Afghanistan.

McGuffie, 28, was most heralded as a University of Michigan running back in 2008. He transferred to Rice after one season in Ann Arbor, wasn’t drafted by the NFL but signed with the Raiders in 2013 and played in two preseason games.

McGuffie bounced around on NFL practice squads and in the CFL before turning to bobsled in 2015. He has been part of the U.S. national team for three seasons.

His story is similar to that of Johnny Quinn, the 2014 Olympic bobsledder most famous for getting locked in a bathroom in Sochi.

Quinn announced his bobsled retirement last year, his last competition being Sochi.

Quinn also played Division I college football and in NFL preseason games as a wide receiver.

Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker is the only athlete with NFL regular-season experience to compete in the Winter Olympics. He finished seventh in two-man bobsled at Albertville 1992.

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