Army Soldiers Go for Gold in Sochi

Steven Holcomb, a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, pilots one of the United States' bobsleds during an event in Sochi. Steven Holcomb, a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, pilots one of the United States' bobsleds during an event in Sochi. Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Becoming an Olympic athlete requires discipline and focus, drive and determination, a supreme commitment to being the best you can be.

It stands to reason then that the U.S. Army would be a launching pad for Olympians, and its World Class Athlete Program attempts to tap into that crossover.

Since 1948, 446 Army soldiers have competed in the summer and winter Olympics, earning 111 medals. Since the WCAP was created in 1997, 55 soldiers have participated in the games.

The World Class Athlete Program recruits athletes from all of the Army’s components: active, reserve and National Guard -- although all participants join the active-duty ranks upon entering the program. The athletes then receive special training from military and civilian coaches and have access to Olympic training facilities. The primary mission of the unit is to prepare and send athletes to the Olympics.

The Army sent six athletes to compete in the 2014 Sochi games, as well as three coaches. Capt. Christopher Fogt, a brakeman for the four-man bobsled team, is competing in his second Olympics. Steven Holcomb, a WCAP alum, is also a member of that team. Sgt. Justin Olsen -- who won a gold medal in 2010 in Vancouver -- joined Sgts. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson to form a second bobsled squad for Team USA in Sochi.

"It's not just me I'm representing when I'm in the sled," Cunningham told the American Forces Press Service. "I have all U.S. soldiers behind me as I slide down every track worldwide."

Fogt said his training as a soldier helps him mentally prepare for his events.

"I try to apply the warrior ethos and mentality of never quitting or accepting defeat in my training and competitions," he told AFPS.

Sgts. Preston Griffal and Matt Mortenson competed in doubles luge earlier this week, coming in 14th place. 

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