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Night Train rides again: Army's bobsled legacy continues at the Winter Olympics

Feb. 3, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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The U.S.'s Steven Holcomb, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Christopher Fogt celebrate after the final competition race in the four-man bobsled World Cup competition in Germany on Jan. 26. (CHRISTOF STACHE/ / AFP/Getty Images)
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Some might say don’t mess with success, but don’t tell that to Olympic bobsledding champion and Army veteran Steven Holcomb.

Four years ago, Holcomb piloted his four-man crew to the winner’s podium at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. It was the first time Team USA had captured gold in that event in 62 years.

Their secret weapon: a black bullet built for speed by NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine and his personal sled-building skunkworks, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.

While officially known as USA-1, Holcomb and his crew preferred to call their sled “Night Train.”

This year, Holcomb has upgraded to a new-and-improved “Night Train 2,” a completely overhauled vehicle he hopes will be his team’s ticket to another gold medal.

“The sport has developed a lot in the last five years. We’ve learned a lot about how to make things faster, how to make better parts,” Holcomb tells OFFduty.

Many of the details on what they’ve changed are being kept secret.

“There are a number of things up in the frame by me that I’m not really allowed to talk about,” he says.

The biggest change, however, is trading the old Night Train’s fiberglass-Kevlar body for a carbon-fiber build, he says.

“The carbon fiber is considerably stiffer but also much lighter, so we’re able to distribute the weight differently. We can put more where we want it now.”

The changes seem to be for the better.

Holcomb and his crew finished this season’s World Cup series with a gold-medal win Jan. 26 in Germany. They started the season strong as well, wracking up an impressive series of first place finishes.

But in the middle of this World Cup series, they hit some bumps. The team crashed twice just after the start of the new year, once during a training run and again during a race.

“We’d been trying out some new things to try and make it faster,” says Holcomb’s brakeman, Army Capt. Chris Fogt. “We’re all still a little banged up, so it’ll be nice to have two weeks off from sliding to rest up the bodies so we’re ready to roll when it really matters.”

Fogt knows the feeling. He was the brakeman for the USA-2 sled in the 2010 Winter Games. That crew’s medal hopes were dashed when their sled crashed on the same course that killed a luger during an earlier training run.

“You have to just shrug it off,” Fogt says. “It’s the part of the sport you don’t necessarily get used to, but you try to learn from. And when it does happen, you learn to not panic and just try to embrace the suck.”

Fogt and pusher Steve Langton are the two newcomers to Team Night Train this year. Pusher Curt Tomasevicz is a veteran of Holcomb’s 2010 crew.

Night Train 2’s success this year has had other teams snooping, Holcomb says.

“They can take all the pictures they want, but they don’t know what they’re looking for, so there’s not much they can do.”

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