By Sgt. Michael Hunnisett
Four Army soldier-athletes assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program have been selected to Team USA in their respective sports to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which kicks off this weekend.
In Nordic Combined, Spc. Jasper Good, a Motor Transport Operator from Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and Spc. Benjamin Loomis, a Motor Transport Operator from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, were selected on January 19.
“I am incredibly honored and excited to be named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team,” said Good. “Representing Team USA at the Games means even more to me as a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. The support and camaraderie I have gained has helped me reach new levels.”
Both athletes have been competing in the 2021-2022 FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Europe leading up to the announcement. Loomis narrowly missed a previous Olympic qualification in Lake Placid, New York, in December 2021. A 1st place spot earned automatic qualification for the games; Loomis narrowly missed earning 2nd place.
“I am humbled and very proud to be representing the United States of America as both a soldier and an athlete,” said Loomis. “Representing this country and the U.S. Army in Beijing is a true honor and something I hope will inspire future generations.”
In Bobsled, Spc. Frank Del Duca, an infantryman from Bethel, Maine; and Spc. Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, a Biomedical Equipment Specialist from Powhatan, Virginia, were both announced to the team on January 17.
Del Duca’s first Olympic games will be as a pilot; while Abdul-Saboor’s second Olympic games will be as a push athlete.
“I’m not surprised,” said Del Duca’s father, Frank Del Duca III. “He had a plan and he stuck to the plan.”
Del Duca was recently promoted to the World Cup level shortly after the International Bobsled & Skeleton Federation Christmas break and most recently placed 15th in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Of the eight men selected to the team, Abdul-Saboor is one of two with the most experience, having previously competed in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In 2018, Abdul-Saboor finished 21st in the two-man event and 19th in the four-man event.
In Luge, Sgt. Emily Sweeney, a Military Police Officer from Suffield, Connecticut, earned her spot on Team USA, which was announced on January 10.
“I’m honestly just really proud,” said Sweeney. “No one has an easy road to get here and I am proud of myself that I was able to push through a lot and I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent the United States in Beijing.”
Sweeney has been racing in Luge for over a decade, being named Junior World Champion in 2013; along with 1 World Cup gold medal, 5 World Cup silver medals and 1 World Cup bronze medal.
“The challenges have come from every angle, really. It’s been unbelievable how many different challenges we, as a team, have had to face this year,” Sweeney said during a Zoom press conference. “I’m looking forward to that moment where I can just let it go and be in the moment, but that’s not going to happen until I’m in China.”
A Suffield, Connecticut, native, Sweeney was introduced to sliding by her older sister and Olympian, Megan, and has since competed on five World Cup teams, four World Championship teams and will soon compete in her second Winter Olympics. She will join teammates Summer Britcher and Ashley Farquharson in women’s singles.
In the sport of Luge, athletes lay on their back, controlling sleds with their feet while reaching speeds approaching 90 mph. Margins for winning are usually minimal, measured in hundredths to thousandths of a second.
Joining the five soldier-athletes at the Winter Games are four soldier-coaches. These coaches, also assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, help train all athletes on Team USA. Those selected are: Lt. Col. Garrett Hines, Bobsled Start Coach and Environmental Science Officer, from Bartlett, Tennessee; Capt. Michael Kohn, Team USA Bobsled Head coach, and Infantry Officer from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Staff Sgt. Shauna Rohbock, Assistant Driving Coach and Human Resource Specialist, from Park City, Utah; and Sgt. Justin Olsen, Assistant Bobsled Push Coach and Human Resource Specialist, from San Antonio Texas.
To cheer on these soldiers representing the U.S., keep an eye out for their schedules: Nordic combined at the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held on February 9, 15, and 17. In Bobsled, the two-man bobsled heats will be held February 14-15 and the four-man event is scheduled for February 19-20. Luge Singles events will take place February 7 and 8.
– This story was originally published on DVIDShub.net. It has been edited for USO.org.
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