Army, faith helped push Mormon bobsledder Chris Fogt to Olympic success

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26 2014 5:00 a.m. MST

"I almost quit and wanted to go full-time Army," he told the Deseret News in 2012 after his return. "My mentor is a two-star general, and he said this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

So Fogt returned to training for bobsled competition, and while he inspired them in the desert, they inspired him on the track. Fogt said any time he felt tired or discouraged, he thought of them, far from their loved ones, counting on him to represent them on that starting line.

Sustaining faith

Fogt’s LDS faith has sustained and guided him throughout his experiences — as an athlete, as a soldier and now as a husband and soon-to-be father.

His father, Bill, converted to the Mormon faith at age 24 while he served in the Army. Afterward, he attended Brigham Young University, where he met Fogt’s mom, Janet.

Fogt's father taught seminary, and the family moved a lot because of his job. Fogt started high school at Lone Peak in Highland, Utah. The family moved to Massachusetts and then back to Utah, where he graduated from American Fork High.

Fogt chose to attend Utah State University, but he said he struggled with the idea of putting his schoolwork first. Choosing to serve a Mormon mission, however, was an easy decision.

“I was ready for a break,” he said. “I was so happy to go. Most of my friends had already gone.”

He learned as much as he taught on his mission to the Philippines.

“At the age of 19, traveling to a third-world country for the first time, you learn what you really need in life versus what you want in life," he said. "... When you see people living four or five in a one-room little house, and they’re still so happy, loving and giving, it’s awesome. Growing up, when you’re young, you think you need to make money in order to be happy.”

He said the language was difficult, but he immersed himself in the culture and the experience.

“I’ve always been a little crazy,” he said. “I ate everything I could — dog, duck eggs — I got worms over there. It’s the same in the Army — no sleep, MREs — I kind of like that lifestyle.”

Fogt returned from his mission and transferred to UVU, where he ran track on scholarship. Recruiters saw him and persuaded him to try bobsled.

While he appreciates the experiences being an Olympic athlete — and now an Olympic medalist — has given him, he said his faith reminds him that there are more important goals than winning races.

“Sometimes, when you’re just around athletes, you kind of forget deeper things in life, what’s important, having a family, being a good person,” he said. “It’s about how do we win, how do we have fun. ... It’s a much more selfish life. So it’s nice to be reminded and be humbled once in a while.”

When Fogt was in Iraq, he said, there were a lot of soldiers with whom he could worship.

“In Baghdad, we had a small branch,” he said. “It was nice to be able to relax once a week, work on other things that weren’t Army. It was nice to go to church and talk about peace and love and Christ. You’re in a war zone, going to church, but you’re not wearing a suit and tie. You’re wearing your Army uniform, with a weapon on you the whole time. It was a very interesting situation.”

As a member of the U.S. bobsled team, he has to compete on Sundays during every World Cup. So finding time to worship requires some creativity. He makes sure to read scriptures and general conference talks.

There are other Mormons who help him with conversations and support, such as Canadian push athlete David Bissett, who won bronze in 2010 in Vancouver and was on the Canada-2 sled that took ninth.

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