Codie Bascue

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Kaillie Humphries kicks off U.S. bobsled career, easily clinches World Cup spot

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Two-time Olympic bobsled gold medalist Kaillie Humphries, who switched her allegiance from Canada to the United States in September, finished second and first in two North American Cup races this week to clinch her spot on the U.S. team’s roster for the upcoming World Cup season.

The North American Cup races at Lake Placid, N.Y., doubled as U.S. team trials after track issues forced the cancellation of trials last week at Utah Olympic Park. Brittany Reinbolt and Lauren Gibbs had already clinched their spots on the six-woman team by winning the U.S. championship in March.

On Tuesday, Humphries and Gibbs finished second in Humphries’ first competition since the 2018 Olympics, where she won bronze. She had a bumpy entrance to the sled in her first run and trailed former Canadian teammate Christine de Bruin by 0.32 seconds, then was unable to make up the margin despite having the fastest time in the second run.

On Wednesday, Humphries and Sylvia Hoffman had the fastest start and fastest time in each run, easily outrunning de Bruin by a combined 0.54 seconds.

Reinbolt and Gibbs were fourth on Tuesday and third on Wednesday, just ahead of fellow Americans Kristi Joplin and Jasmine Jones in each race.

In the men’s competition, which had only three pilots in action, U.S. champion Codie Bascue and Josh Williamson won the first two-man bobsled race on Monday, finishing ahead of Canadian gold medalist Justin Kripps. Bascue injured his hamstring in the second two-man race and didn’t compete in the four-man races.

Hunter Church and Blaine McConnell took third in one of the two-man races. Church then took second and third in the four-man races.

Skeleton athletes already had their trials but also competed in the North American Cup, where four-time Olympian and 2012 world champion Katie Uhlaender rebounded from narrowly missing the World Cup squad to win her first two international races since the 2018 Olympics.

The U.S. teams for the World Cups:

WOMEN 

Pilots: Reinbolt (USA 1), Humphries (USA 2), Joplin (USA 3)

Push athletes: Gibbs, Hoffman, Jones

MEN

Pilots: Bascue (USA 1), Church (USA 2), Geoff Gadbois (USA 3)

Push athletes: Williamson, McConnell, Adrian Adams, Chris Avery, Michael Fogt, Kris Horn, Dakota Lynch, Jimmy Reed, Kyle Wilcox

The World Cup series begins Dec. 7-8 in Lake Placid.

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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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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics

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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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang Olympics