February 4, 2014

Solitude by Curt Tomasevicz

One of my favorite Olympic moments isn’t captured anywhere on video or in a picture. It isn’t the gold medal run down the track or even the flag raising ceremony. Of course, I’ll always remember the Star Spangled Banner being played as I watched Old Glory being raised in the air just a little bit higher than the Canadian and German flags. But my favorite memory took place just before that last run.

A bobsled race is set up so that the sleds go down the hill in reverse order of rank in the last heat. That means that the last place sled goes first and the team in the lead thus far will go last. During the first three of the four heats at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, my team had built nearly a half second lead over the second place team. That may not seem like much time, but in bobsled terms, that is a huge lead.

The warm up area for bobsled athletes is not that glamorous. We basically warm up in the parking lot behind the start house at the top of the track. Each athlete does a variety of dynamic movements and static stretching to get ready to be at their absolute best for the 5 second push. So as the second heat started and progressed, the warm up area became more and more deserted. And soon the only team still warming up, was the four guys from the USA.

We could hear the crowd cheering in the distance for the teams that were starting their final run. The crowd was getting louder and louder as the anticipation built for the final few sleds. But through the noise and the excitement, there was a certain calmness with our team. I remember as the Canadian team left the warm up area leaving just us, I looked at Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler, and Steve Holcomb. We didn’t have to say anything, but we had an unspoken feeling that we were about to make history. We controlled our nerves and excitement and kept a level head. But the anticipation was there.

It was one last quiet moment before chaos broke loose. It was team solitude. A few minutes after that, we crossed the finish line in first place and we were pulled and thrown in a million different directions. It was a storm of media, drug testing, and packing our luggage all before the medal ceremony. Things were never the same as they were in that last moment before our final heat.

Farmers sped a lot of time alone. It could be in the field, checking cattle, working on equipment. And although I love being a part of a team, I think those moments alone help make a better person.

Every spring, usually in April, I help a family friend on his farm. I usually help stock chop or disk depending on his crop rotation that year. I don’t usually have much more than about a full week to help. But during that week I typically put in ten hour days. It is a lot of time alone in a tractor with nothing but the radio for entertainment. And I have to admit that I really enjoy the time of solitude. It is my time after the busyness of the bobsled season and just before the strenuous workouts of the off-season. It gives me time to reflect and to prepare.
The view from my hours of farm solitude
It is rare that people believe me when I tell them that my week of farming in the spring helps me prepare for the bobsled season. But those quiet hours in thought remind me of my greatest Olympic memory. It’s the calm before the storm…

Help us wish Curt good luck in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi! Be sure to watch Curt and the USA Men's Bobsled team and follow updates on his Facebook page. 

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