By TIM HIPPS
IMCOM Public Affairs
Several Soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program are training and competing for spots on the U.S. Team for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The strongest group will compete at the 2013 Bobsled World Championships Jan. 26-27, and Feb. 1-3, in picturesque St. Moritz, Switzerland, home of the only naturally refrigerated track in the world.
Former World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, bobsledder and reigning two-man world champion driver Steven Holcomb will team with Steve Langton in the USA-1 sled in the two-man races on Jan. 26 and 27. Each team runs two heats each day and cumulative times determine the final standings.
Cory Butner will pilot USA-2 with WCAP Capt. Chris Fogt aboard. The WCAP duo of Sgt. Nick Cunningham and Sgt. Dallas Robinson will compete in USA-3. That makes four Soldiers and one WCAP alumni among six U.S. athletes in two-man sleighs. WCAP coaches 2nd Lt. Mike Kohn, Sgt. 1st Class Tuffy Latour and Sgt. Shauna Rohbock also are serving at the Bobsled World Championships.
Team USA will field two sleds in the team event Jan. 27. Those combinations have not been determined. All are also candidates to compete in four-man events Feb. 1-3 at St. Moritz.
In the meantime, another group of WCAP Soldiers will compete Feb. 1-2 at the 2013 Luge World Championships in Whistler, British Columbia., Canada, on the same lightning-fast track that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
WCAP Sgt. Matt Mortensen and Sgt. Preston Griffall, ranked No. 12 in the World Cup standings, will compete in doubles and perhaps the team event. Pvt. Emily Sweeney, who is expected to be in WCAP by next season, will make her first appearance in the World Championships fresh off a gold-medal performance Jan. 15, at the 2013 Junior World Championships in Park City, Utah.
WCAP Sgt. Bill Tavares serves as an assistant coach for Team USA. He will be joined by WCAP lugers Sgt. Joseph Mortensen and Sgt. Isaac Underwood for a World Cup event Feb. 8-9, at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, N.Y. National Guard Pfc. Taylor Morris is also in the mix of lugers looking to compete in the 2014 Sochi Games.
Three-time Olympian WCAP Staff Sgt. Jeremy Teela, at age 36, continues to compete with Team USA’s best biathletes. He finished 39th overall and first among Americans in the 10-kilometer sprint with a time of 29 minutes, 23.1 seconds at IBU Cup No. 5 on Jan. 11-12, in Ostrov, Russia.
In the 12.5k pursuit race, Teela finished 40th overall as the first American with a time of 40:10.7. Fellow Olympian Tim Burke and Teela remain the front-runners among biathlon contenders seeking to represent Team USA in Sochi.
Another WCAP Soldier, Sgt. Jen Lee, is in position to earn a trip to Sochi as a goalie for Team USA’s Paralympic sled hockey squad. The team is playing in the 2013 USA Sled Hockey Cup through Jan. 26 at Indian Trail, N.C.
The Sochi Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for Feb. 6 through 23, 2014.