This spring, USA Bobsled & Skeleton has been reeling from the unexpected death of Olympian Steven Holcomb, who passed away on May 6. Yesterday, the organization announced, “The toxicology results indicate Holcomb had a fatal combination of the prescription sleep aid Eszopiclone/Zopiclone (Lunesta) in his system as well as a .18% blood alcohol concentration.” The coroner’s report also found evidence of pulmonary congestion.
Holcomb was 37, and at the time of death, he was in Lake Placid, NY, for training. He’d been prepping for the 2018 Olympics, including doing some promotional shoots for NBC.
Although he battled keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease, he learned how to drive a bobsled based on feel. The disease nearly took his sight, but he had a surgery called C3-R that restored it to nearly perfect.
Holcomb piloted bobsleds in three Olympics: Torino, Vancouver and Sochi. Driving the infamous “Night Train” in Vancouver, he led the team to the U.S.’ first gold medal in the event in 62 years. Four years later, he won bronze in both the two- and four-man bobsled–the two-man was the first American medal in the sport since 1952.
Here’s a look at the Night Train’s gold medal moment:
A memorial fund’s been set up in Holcomb’s honor. The family will distribute the money to keratoconus patients and elite athletes who need financial support.
Our case of Rio Olympic Fever is starting to wane, but that doesn’t mean the flame in our heart will die out. Over the next couple of years, we’re going to be looking at different aspects of the Olympics and of sports in general.
One element of sport that really interests us is geography. Fiji’s a powerhouse in rugby. The US still dominates basketball. Brazil is known for football excellence, etc. While we do some research into how and why different sports grow popular in different countries or areas of the world, let’s take a look at Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar. Karmakar’s the first female gymnast to represent India at the Olympics, and she took fourth in the vault.
India’s not known for its gymnastics prowess, so Dipa had a lot of issues to overcome, reports Firstpost, such as not having access to a vault to learn how to vault. Her coach improvised one for her out of second-hand springs, old scooter shock absorbers and mats. She would get cast-off equipment (up until earlier this year, she reportedly practiced on a six-year-old vault, which may not seem like a big deal, but vault technology has apparently improved since then) and little funding or attention, particularly because she’s a woman.
Earlier this year, she did get funding and new equipment that allowed her to train properly.
By all accounts, she did well in Rio. Fourth is nothing to slouch over, even if India was hoping for a medal. Even with fourth place, she can continue breaking down barriers to help future generations of Indian girls participate in the sport.
Here in the US, Karmakar’s story is dumbfounding. Gymnastics is hugely popular here, and women’s gymnastics even more so than men’s. Our top gymnasts get access to high-quality training and equipment (perhaps you saw some of the million minutes devoted to the Karolyis on NBC). But I’m sure that in a sport like, say, handball, our athletes also suffer the same as Karmakar. Can every country have decent participation and funding for every sport? Should they?
The Feverr is at an all-time high, dear readers! The torch is making its way through the streets of Rio and will light the Olympic Flame tonight! Tonight! The day we’ve been waiting for for seven years! An Olympics will finally take place in South America!
Since it’s such a big deal, that begs the question: What are you wearing to the big show, athletes? Let’s take a look at some of the uniforms different delegations will be sporting over the next two weeks.
Team GB’s formal wear:
And check out the Stella McCartney-designed kit!
Here’s their kit:
But the Opening Ceremony uniform might be the big winner of the night:
And this is only the tip of the iceberg! We’re excited to see the rest of the fashion on display at the Parade of Nations tonight!
Programming note: We likely won’t be live blogging the Opening Ceremonies, as that’s probably not something a gracious party host would do (you are ready for the party, right?). We might Tweet or post on Facebook a bit–but no guarantees. Still, feel free to join us at those locations for the virtual party.
Throughout the Games, we’ll be blogging a lot more than once a day (depending on our regular life schedule), so tune in regularly (or subscribe) for more instant reactions. We’ll also do daily recap updates as well.
Enjoy the Games, friends! And remember: Feverius, Watchius, WOWZIUS!