Gold Medal bobsledder joins Army National Guard

Friday, April 01, 2011

Olympic Gold Medal Winner Justin Olsen competed for his country in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Now New York Army National Guard Private 1st Class Justin Olsen will also serve his country.

Olsen, a member of the United States Bobsled team since 2007, enlisted in the Army National Guard in a Jan. 7 ceremony in Latham, N.Y.

"I already represent my country," Olsen said. "Now I have an opportunity to serve and represent my country at the same time."

Olsen will train as a human resource specialist for the Joint Force Headquarters after this season’s World Cup ends.

Once he completes his individual entry training, Olsen plans to apply for the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which provides outstanding soldier-athletes with support and training to compete in national and international competitions while maintaining a professional military career and promoting the Army to the world.

"I hope to be selected and, as a soldier-athlete, I hope that I can give back as much to the program as they are giving me," Olsen said.

"My plans are to continue to earn medals and make a name for my sport and the program."

Olsen began thinking about the National Guard when his fellow USA Bobsled teammate Mike Kohn, who was then a sergeant in the Virginia Army National Guard, told him about the Army National Guard and the Army athlete program.

Olsen made the World Cup team in his first season and became one of the nation’s top bobsledders.

Olsen is one of two pushers on the four-man team.

In 2008, Olsen earned a spot on sled USA 1 with driver Steven Holcomb, a former Utah National Guard soldier, winning two silver and two bronze medals in the first half of the World Cup tour.

Olsen also helped push Holcomb to a first place finish at the 2009 National Championships for four-man and a silver medal at the inaugural World Cup in Whistler, Canada.

At the 2009 World Championships, Olsen teamed with Holcomb again to win gold in the four-man and a Gold Medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"The wealth and strength of the New York Army National Guard comes from the longstanding tradition of talent, abilities and dedication of our service members," Lt. Col. Steve Rowe, commander of the New York Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command, said.

"As a world-class athlete, Justin has distinguished himself as the best of the best and brings to us those exact talents and desire to serve that we look for in any of our soldiers."