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Bobsled Offers Last Realistic Chance For Medal For Northwest Olympians

Sam Michener
File photo. Sam Michener of Gresham, Oregon, head up in back, is the last hope for the Northwest to bring home a medal from PyeongChang.

The four-man bobsled competition at the Winter Olympics this weekend offers the last realistic chance for a Pacific Northwest athlete to bring home a medal. None of the 12 Northwest Olympians in South Korea has stood on the podium so far in these Winter Games.

The Northwest's last hope for a medal from PyeongChang are now riding on Sam Michener and his mates in the USA's No. 3 bobsled. Other expected medal contenders from the Northwest in speedskating and skiing came up short.

Michener is a former University of Idaho track and field standout who tried out for the U.S. bobsled team kind of on a lark in 2012, and then took to it. The 30-year-old from Gresham, Oregon, expects this, his first Olympics, will also be his last.

Michener said he gets violently jostled in the back of the four-man sled.

"As a brakeman, I would say the average age is probably 32 or 33 when guys hang it up and they move on,” Michener said. “Pilots can go a little longer. We've had pilots as old as 36 or 37 years old. Of course, it's less physically demanding for them so they are able to stay in the sport a little bit longer."

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.