At the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., America's best athletes spend months preparing for their moment.
Wrestlers hang out with gymnasts. Fencers eat meals with runners.
This spring, about once a week, a bobsledder from Shelby, Neb., trained in the same weight room as a Baltimore swimmer.
“(Michael) Phelps might have eight Olympic gold medals,” says Curt Tomasevicz, a former Husker football player, “but it boosts our egos a little bit to beat him in something.”
Tomasevicz, who won bobsled gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, fled the Colorado wildfires last week and attended the Swim Trials, where he sat back — stress-free — and cheered on his peers.
“It's kinda cool knowing they're going to have their chance to win Olympic medals, and we're going to be sitting there watching them on TV,” Tomasevicz said.
Tomasevicz is still chasing his own Olympic goals. He was a push man on the first U.S. bobsled team since 1948 to win gold. In February, he was part of the four-man team, piloted by Steve Holcomb, that won the world championships.
Tomasevicz, 31, plans to be in Russia in 2014 to defend Olympic gold. And then, like Phelps, he'll call it quits.
Coaching bobsled interests him, but he'll probably put his electrical engineering degree to work.
“Get a real job, I guess,” he said.
For now, his job is training twice a day. Running in the morning, lifting in the afternoon.
That job got harder last week when wildfires threatened Colorado Springs. From the streets, Tomasevicz could see the flames in the mountains west of town. The air got smoky.
“It was kind of hard to breathe,” said Tomasevicz, who owns a house on the east side of Colorado Springs, which is safe.
About 40 United States Olympic Committee employees evacuated their homes. Some, including a family with a 2-week-old baby, moved into the USOC headquarters.
“The atmosphere at the training center changed quite a bit,” Tomasevicz said.
He decided to start his July Fourth holiday early, driving back to Nebraska. He lifted at the Shelby High weight room, ran at the Columbus High track. And caught two nights of swimming in Omaha.
Tomasevicz might squat 528 pounds, but he's a long way from catching Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly.
“Bobsledders sink pretty quickly,” he said.
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