Seven soldier-athletes will compete in Team USA’s 230 athlete delegation, the largest of any nation in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, at the Sochi Olympics next week.
Here are the Army’s Olympic hopefuls:
1. Captain Chris Fogt, Bobsled and Skeleton
Fogt graduated from Utah Valley University where he was a track and field athlete as well as an ROTC candidate. He was commissioned into the army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Military Intelligence branch. In 2007, Fogt attended a camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. and picked up the sport of bobsledding. He was later selected to represent the U.S. at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He was deployed to Iraq immediately following the Olympics.
2. 1st Lieutenant Kristi Koplin, Bobsled and Skeleton
Koplin also attended a bobsled recruitment camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. and began the sport in 2010. Koplin, originally a track and field athlete, graduated from Southern Utah University’s ROTC program and is now a 1st Lieutenant and a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. This is Koplin’s first Olympic appearance.
3. Sergeant Nick Cunningham, Bobsled and Skeleton
Once Boise State University track team captain, Cunningham made the switch to bobsledding in 2008 and was immediately selected as an alternate for World Cup team. Cunningham competed in the Vancouver Games and placed 12th in the two-man bobsled event. Cunningham is a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and is a Sergeant in the New York National Guard.
4. Sergeant Justin Olsen, Bobsled and Skeleton
In his first season of practicing the sport of bobsled, Olsen was selected for the World Cup team in 2007. Within a year, Olsen earned two silver and two bronze medals in the first half of the World Cup tour. Later at the 2009 and 2012 World Championships, Olsen’s team won gold in the four-man bobsled event. Before discovering his talent for bobsledding, Olsen attended the United States Air Force Academy for a year and later joined the New York National Guard. Olsen will compete in the four-man bobsled event with fellow soldiers Sergeant Nick Cunningham and Sergeant Dallas Robinson.
5. Sergeant Dallas Robinson, Bobsled and Skeleton
Robinson seemingly came out of nowhere to earn a spot on this year’s U.S. Olympic bobsled team. He originally sought placement on Team USA n both track and rugby, but after multiple injuries made a switch to coaching track and field at Berea College in Kentucky. Within a few years, Robinson was approached by a former track student who encouraged him to train for bobsledding. This will be his first Olympic appearance after four years of training.
6. Sergeant Matt Mortensen, Luge
Mortensen has been a member of U.S. national luge teams since he was 13 years old. He was selected for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team just three days after his 28th birthday. Mortensen will compete in luge doubles with U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate Sergeant Preston Griffall. The soldier-athlete duo hope to compete in the team relay, an event that will make its Olympic debut in Russia.
7. Sergeant Preston Griffall, Luge
Griffall made his first Olympic appearance in 2006 where he placed 8th in the men’s doubles event. His shot of earning a spot at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was shattered when he and his teammate Matt Mortenson lost by a hundredth of a second. “We decided it would be pretty weak for us to just bow out like that,” Griffall said. “It was at that point that we decided that we’re going to do everything we can in our power and try and make these next Olympics,” Griffall told The Salt Lake Tribune.