Soldier Olympians Bring Home Five Medals From Sochi
By Tim Hipps
U.S. Army Installation Management Command
SOCHI, Russia, March 4, 2014 Former and active-duty soldiers from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program played a major role in five of the United States' 28 Olympic medals won at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Former WCAP bobsled driver Steven Holcomb, who spent nearly eight years in the Army's elite athlete program, won bronze medals in two-man and four-man bobsled.
Army Capt. Chris Fogt, assigned to WCAP, was the brakeman for Holcomb's four-man bronze medal team, which included civilians Steve Langton and Curt Tomasevicz. Langton also teamed with Holcomb in the two-man event.
Army 1st Lt. Mike Kohn, a two-time Olympic competitor as a WCAP athlete, helped coach both of those squads onto the Olympic podium as a rookie Olympic assistant for Team USA bobsled head coach Brian Shimer.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Tuffy Latour, a four-time Olympic coach assigned to WCAP, led Noelle Pikus-Pace to a silver medal in women's skeleton and Matt Antoine to a bronze medal in men's skeleton. He also coached Katie Uhlaender to a fourth-place finish in the women's event.
"He's a rock," Pikus-Pace, 31, of Orem, Ore., said of Latour. "He's the absolute best coach I've ever had."
Latour has also competed in track and field, softball, basketball and soccer.
"It's not just because of his coaching on the track," she said. "It's because of the sacrifice he makes for us. He puts his athletes first, and he cares so much about us. He's results-based and all about what will make us better as a team."
Army Staff Sgt. Bill Tavares, a six-time Olympian assigned to WCAP, coached Erin Hamlin to a bronze medal in women's luge, the first medal in U.S. women's Olympic luge history.
Soldiers comprised nearly half of the U.S. Olympic men's bobsled squad. In addition to Holcomb, Fogt and coach Kohn, Army Sgts. Justin Olsen, a 2010 Olympic gold medalist, Sgt. Nick Cunningham and Sgt. Dallas Robinson also were on the team. All are assigned to WCAP.
Fogt reported that fellow soldiers were watching him at Fort Hood, Texas, and that Sochi was "quite the change of pace" from Iraq, where he served for a year after competing at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Fogt said his brother is a second lieutenant stationed at Fort Hood, and his brother's unit was cheering for the U.S. bobsledders throughout the games.
"I've won this for them," Fogt said of striking Olympic bobsled bronze for fellow troops. "I can't wait to show it to them. I've gotten so many emails from Afghanistan, Korea, Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, and all over the place."
Fogt said bobsledding and soldiering have a lot in common.
"In the Army, you bleed together, you sweat together, you workout together, you hang around in downtown Baghdad in 120 degrees heat in a Humvee for two or three hours -- you go through those things with your crew and it makes you feel close.
In bobsled, he added: "You slide down an icy track in a bathtub with four men in spandex -- you're very close. You get very, very close. It's a brotherhood."
Fogt was Cory Butner's brakeman aboard USA-2. They finished 12th in two-man bobsled.
Butner said he was "very honored to have Capt. Chris Fogt racing with me," between the first and second days of two-man competition.
"It's amazing. He takes care of everything for me. He keeps everything in order," Butner said. "I've just got to focus on driving. He takes control. I was very frustrated yesterday, and he was just trying to keep me calm and keep me focused on what we had to do today."
The WCAP duo of Cunningham-Robinson finished right behind Butner-Fogt, in 13th place, aboard USA-3.
"I have literally one of the best pushers in the world," Cunningham said of Robinson, his WCAP teammate.
In the four-man bobsled, Cunningham drove USA-2 to 12th place with WCAP teammates Olsen and Robinson aboard, along with civilian Johnny Quinn, the bobsledder who gained Internet notoriety by barreling through a locked restroom door in Russia.
Cunningham said all of the bobsledders take cues from Holcomb, 33, their wily veteran.
"Anytime [the team] wins a medal, it's a benefit to the program," Cunningham said. "To have him go out there and win, it's huge. It elevates everybody. It motivates us. Our names are not on the uniform. It says USA.
"I'm happy I get to be with him the next four years to Korea [site of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games] and hopefully I'll learn a lot more from him.
"He's a mentor to me that I can go to him for anything. To have him to be able to give me driving lines, and help me out, and to have the world's best at my disposal every single day. It's helped Cory and I get to this level," Cunningham said. "That's why we are so good. I don't know where we would be without him."
Kohn helped coach all of the U.S. bobsledders, including women's silver medalists Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams, and bronze medalists Aja Evans and Jamie Greubel. Latour also was there for them on race nights.
Editor's note: Gary Sheftick of Army News Service contributed to this article.