PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – It's been quite a year for Justin Olsen, one of the Texan bobsledders competing in Pyeongchang.
His mentor, legendary bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb, died suddenly in May 2017. It was an overwhelming loss for the entire team.
Then this February, two weeks before race day, Justin was rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery. Doctors removed his appendix and initially did not believe he would be able to compete.
"I think it's all the support from home, and here on the ground, that has been part of the reason I feel good today," Justin said after training on the ice in South Korea for the first time since his appendectomy.
At O'Connor high school in San Antonio, Olsen was a football star. He went on to play a season at the Air Force before switching to bobsled in 2007. He was part of the four-man team, piloted by Holcomb that won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
After Sochi, Olsen switched from push athlete to driving the sled. He trained three seasons to be ready to pilot in Pyeongchang, and nothing was going to stop that.
“I might be sore heading into the race but, that’s, we’ve been working way too hard for too long to let some soreness bother us," Olsen said.
He posted videos of himself working out, and a few days later was back on the ice. Amid the hype of the Olympics and the pressure of competing with an injury, Olsen is laser-focused.
"A lot of people will come here, and they’ll feel the hype and they’ll feel the importance of it, and they’ll change. And you can’t do that. You just, you keep it the same," Olsen said. "All the work is done. It’s about performance now.”