At the Whistler Sliding Centre on Feb. 27, 2010, Steven Holcomb slid into the history books as the driver of USA 1, America’s first four-man bobsled team to win Olympic gold since 1948. The team’s performance, which included setting a course record on one run, capped a remarkable season that also saw it win America’s first world championship since 1959 and its first World Cup title since 1992. (In 2014, Holcomb won bronze medals in both two-man and four-man bobsled.)
What made the 2010 season even more remarkable is how Holcomb got there. For most of his career, Holcomb had suffered from keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that makes the corneas bulge and seriously affects a person’s vision.
By the time he had surgery in 2008, he was relying more on instinct than vision to navigate bobsled runs. Sports Illustrated called him “America’s sledi knight,” recalling the scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker learns to use his lightsaber while wearing an opaque visor.
Holcomb credits Scouting with broadening his horizons. “Earning all the merit badges really opens your eyes to more than just one thing in life. There’s so much to learn, so much you have to do,” he says.