USA TODAY - Olympic champion bobsledder Steven Holcomb was found dead in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Saturday. He was 37.
No details were available about Holcomb's death, the USOC said.
Holcomb won an Olympic gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games, piloting the "Night Train" to victory in the four-man bobsled competition. It was the first U.S. gold medal in the event since 1948.
Four years laters in Sochi, he went on to win bronze medals in both two-man and four-man bobsled.
"The entire Olympic family is shocked and saddened by the incredibly tragic loss today of Steven Holcomb,” said Scott Blackmun, USOC CEO. “Steve was a tremendous athlete and even better person, and his perseverance and achievements were an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family and the entire bobsledding community.”
In 2008, Holcomb had experimental eye surgery to correct a disorder called keratoconus, which distorts vision and often leads to blindness. Before the corrective surgery, Holcomb battled depression, and in his 2012 book, But Now I See: My Journey From Blindness to Olympic Gold, he revealed that he attempted suicide in 2007.
"Depression isn't something you catch in the wind one day and get sick the next," Holcomb wrote. "It is a gradual, degenerative process, much like my keratoconus. And just like my blindness, I chose to battle the demon on my own, without telling anyone or seeking help from others."
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A native of Park City, Utah, who joined the World Cup circuit as a brakeman in 1998, Holcomb became one of the most decorated bobsled pilots in the world. He won 60 World Cup medals and 10 medals at world championships in addition to his three Olympic medals. He was a five-time world champion.
Holcomb finished the season ranked No. 2 in two-man bobsled on the World Cup circuit and third in four-man. In March he competed at the track that will host next year's Olympics, posting photos on social media from Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"It would be easy to focus on the loss in terms of his Olympic medals and enormous athletic contributions to the organization, but USA Bobsled & Skeleton is a family and right now we are trying to come to grips with the loss of our teammate, our brother and our friend," said USA Bobsled & Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele.
"My heart is broken and I'm still in shock," U.S. Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor told USA TODAY Sports. "We not only lost a great bobsledder today, we lost a great teammate and an even better friend. He was USA bobsled and will forever be. I will miss him deeply."
Brant Feldman, who has been Holcomb’s agent since 2009, said he could not release any details on Holcomb’s death.
Feldman said he recently spent a week with Holcomb in Los Angeles for NBC promos in advance of the Pyeongchang Olympics and a documentary about Holcomb. Feldman was working with a prospective new sponsor who planned to fly Holcomb and his father out to the Indy 500 later this month.
“Everything was cool,” Feldman said. “We were talking about when he wanted to retire, and he told me with the world championships being in Whistler in 2019, that would be his swan song.”
Feldman remembered Holcomb as the consummate teammate.
In 2014, Holcomb asked his helmet sponsor to provide gear for some of the women’s bobsledders, Feldman said.
“Steven was, for the people that really got to know him, they really loved this guy. He was quiet and he was reserved and quiet and nature, but his word was his bond,” he said.
“If you were on Steven’s team, you were on his team. He was the type of guy that was extremely loyal to those around him that were his friends. The really close friends that he had are devastated right now.
“I’m getting messages from all over the place right now, and everyone is surprised. Steve was truly loved by a lot of people.”
Contributing: Rachel Axon, Jeff Zillgitt
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