The first time hurtling down an icy bobsled run can be a little unnerving. Halfway down Chris Fogt's first run, he stuck his head out for a look, ready to abandon the sled.
What he saw whizzing by at more than 70 mph, however, convinced him to duck back in and hold on for the rest of the wild ride.
"I didn't think it was going to be that rough," Fogt said. "You're banging in there; your head's hitting the walls ... not the most comfortable mode of transportation."
Currently the youngest member of the U.S. bobsled team, Fogt, a former Utah Valley State College sprinter, finished the bobsled season with a trip to the World Cup championships in Germany this past February. He's a rookie on the team, and, even at a muscular 195 pounds, he's the smallest member.
"Chris is a rookie, but what I see is potential for him. He came out his year, and he made an impact right away," said Brian Shimer, coach of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation bobsled team.
This past season, Fogt saw time as the brakeman, or last man to jump into the sled, for the USA second team.
The chance to compete for a spot on the 2010 U.S. bobsled team for the Vancouver Olympics all began for Fogt at a track meet on the Brigham Young University campus. He said a couple of men in black jackets with Olympic rings on them approached him and asked if he'd ever tried bobsledding. His initial laughter at the suggestion was short-lived, however, as he found himself trying out for the team at the Olympic oval in Kearns just a few weeks later.
While at UVSC, he set the school's outdoor record in the 100-meter dash and a number of indoor sprinting records. His track coach at UVSC, Scott Houle, said Fogt gave his team everything they could have asked from an athlete.
"Chris is the type of guy who will go about doing his thing," Houle said. "(He) will deflect a lot of the attention off himself, because he's that kind of guy. He just goes and does his work and doesn't want the glory."
It's his great speed, however, that makes Fogt valuable to a bobsled team.
"He has got potential in the sprinting and the speed part of bobsledding," Shimer said, adding that Fogt is one of the top three sprinters on the U.S. team. "If you can't run, it's tough to be a good bobsledder."
Even though he was invited last May to join the bobsled team after his tryout in Salt Lake, Fogt still wasn't convinced the sport was for him at the time. He was making work plans for the summer, in addition to gearing up for ROTC training at Fort Lewis in Washington. He said a bobsled driver on the team from Pleasant Grove called him repeatedly, leaving nearly 20 messages, before he agreed to join.
"At first I wasn't very interested, because I had commitments with the Army and everything," he said. "But it's looking pretty good now."
Fogt is just finishing up the ROTC program at UVSC and soon will commission as a second lieutenant in the Army, following his father and grandfather into the military. And now that he's made the U.S. bobsled team, he has an opportunity to apply to train full time for the 2010 Olympics under the Army's World Class Athlete Program.
"He's been an outstanding cadet in our program," said UVSC ROTC Maj. Jerry Baker. "And he's going to make an outstanding Army officer as well as a very, very good representative for the United States on the Olympic team."
His competitive drive spills over into the Army. For the last few years, Fogt has been central to a combined BYU/UVSC Ranger challenge team that has grabbed top honors in 21 of the last 23 years of competition against all the Ranger challenge teams from Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, said BYU ROTC Maj. Ted Leblow.
So, while he may have been sore for two days after his first wild run down the bobsled track, Fogt has the chance to help the U.S. team when 2010 rolls around.
Shimer said the speedy new track in Vancouver should play into the hands of a sprinter like Fogt."If I can gain 15 pounds and keep my speed," Fogt said, "I should be good to go."
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