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Monday, September 1, 2014

Vancouver Vantage Point—Final

America’s Olympians– The Tapestry of Our Nation


Mike Moran Vancouver Vantage Point—FinalFebruary 28, 2010 #17

By Mike Moran

This exhilarating U. S. Olympic Team, 216 men and women from 36 states—cities, towns and hamlets, from every imaginable background, has made much of a nation terribly proud…………winning more medals than any nation in Olympic Winter Games history and captivating more than 200 million Americans on the NBC family of networks every evening with their stories, triumphs, disappointments, laughter, tears and joyous moments on a wooden platform as our national anthem was played on occasion……….. and good for you, Canada! Your revered hockey teams achieved their miracles, your athletes set a record for gold medals won by any nation in the Winter Games, and the Vancouver organizing committee overcame some glitches and issues to conduct a marvelous celebration, the gathering of the best of the world’s athletes for 17 days………….. but the lasting image of the Vancouver Games for me will be Steve Holcomb’s Night Train crew that seized the first Four-Man Bobsled gold medal for the United States since 1948 in St. Moritz…………..for me, this is the Olympic ideal, the realization of a dream for four unremarkable guys without a future on a Wheaties box, rich endorsements, appearances with Jay Leno or David Letterman, or roaring parades and lasting fame…………the stocky Holcomb, who grew up in Park City, Utah and trained at the U. S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, suffers from a degenerative eye condition, actually being legally blind without corrective lenses before the 2006 Games in Torino, where he finished sixth…………an experimental procedure in 2008 got things right and saved his career…………he had been an alpine skier until taking a right turn and trying out for the USA Bobsled program in 1998 but did not even make the 2002 U. S. Olympic Team in 2002, but he doggedly stayed with it……………his trade is a certified computer network technician and he served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1999-2006………….. the other three guys on the dynamic Bo-Dyn bobsled created by NASCAR‘s Geoff Bodine, are an equally compelling piece of the U. S. Olympic Team’s colorful tapestry……………. Steve Mesler (Buffalo, NY), tried out in 2001 after graduating from the University of Florida in 2000 and competing as a decathlete in track and field…………. he grew up in Buffalo playing hockey and soccer, never dreaming of what just happened in Vancouver during the long cold winters there….……………Justin Olsen (San Antonio, TX), did what most Texas boys do, playing football in high school under Friday night lights as a quarterback and tight end, then going to the U. S. Air Force Academy as a tight end…….. his AFA college career ended with knee surgery, but he went on to a community college and played again…………. it was his mother who encouraged him to try out for the USA Bobsled program in 2007 after hearing about the opportunity on the radio…………Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, NE), grew up in a tiny Nebraska town of 700, located about 70 miles from Lincoln and played for the Big Red as a linebacker and winning first team Academic All-Big 12 honors as a senior in 2003…………. he achieved Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering from NU and saw Bobsled for the first time on TV from the 1998 games in Nagano and he went for it…………….. he is the first born and raised Nebraskan to win a medal in the Olympic Winter Games……………four everyday men who made history in Vancouver, arriving at the medals podium on diverse routes marked by curiosity, a fascination with trying something unusual, and dogged determination to chase a dream where others dared not go………………just before the fourth and final run, on the way to the gold medal in Whistler, with everything on the line and German legend Andre Lange breathing down their necks, they stood together outside the track in a huddle, knowing they were to have the final run and what was at stake in their lives…………..”We didn’t sit there and talk about what we were going to do, said Mesler. “We just relaxed and there was a moment where the four of us were standing there and everyone else had gone inside and we were the last ones there and it’s a moment that I kind of stopped for a half a second and took it in. The four of us in an empty parking lot getting ready to go down the hill. I’ll never forget that.”……………….A “Hoosiers” moment to last a lifetime and talked about for decades in small towns over a beer during long winters……….. the American Dream, fulfilled.


Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. The Omaha, Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City’s Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant. Reach him at: mike@thesthesportscorp.org read more of his columns at www.coloradospringssports.org

Mike Moran

Senior Media Consultant

The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation

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