Tuesday, October 21, 2014
   
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Olympic gold comes to Gothenburg

Former Olympic bobsledder and Nebraska football walk-on Curt Tomasevicz was the featured speaker at Saturday’s Husker Heritage Golf Tournament played at Wild Horse.

Former Husker football and baseball player Adrian Fiala, who runs the event that benefits TeamMates, has gotten to know Tomasevicz through various Husker events.

Fiala placed a phone call and asked the former reserve running back and linebacker if he was interested in being one of the Huskers paired with area golfers to raise funds for Tom and Nancy Osborne’s mentoring program.

Not only did he agree to play, but Tomasevicz also brought a drawing by his mother of him participating in the two-man bobsled for the auction. The signed piece raised $1,000 for TeamMates.

Tomasevicz also brought some special guests along. His gold medal from 2010 and a bronze from this year’s games in Sochi were held, photographed and even bitten by participating golfers.

His career on the ice likely ended after the third-place finish in Sochi.

Now, he’s focusing on finishing his education. He recently moved from Colorado Springs, the home of the Olympic Training Center, back to Lincoln where he plans to pursue a doctorate degree.

He previously earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska. His next degree is without a title but will deal with the physics of sport and engineering.

He hopes to teach and research at the university level when his studies are complete.

In a sense, he even owes his decorated Olympic career to his continued studies.

His days on the football field had ended. He was still in Lincoln, working on his masters and keeping fit. Then he crossed paths with Amanda Morley, a former Husker track and field standout who was recruited to be on the women’s bobsled team.

“She talked me into it,” Tomasevicz said. “(She) pretty much put me in contact with the right people.”

Less than 18 months later, he was headed to Italy for the Torino games in 2006, while still finishing his thesis.

The Shelby native credits his speedy ascent to the highest level of competition to injuries and retirements of other American hopefuls.

He may not have known it, but Tomasevicz was training for the bobsled for much longer than a year and a half.

“You train for other sports all your life, and that is training for bobsled,” Tomasevicz said.

“In football you have squats and cleans and sprints plus conditioning. You have to be in shape,” he continued. “With us, its squats and cleans and sprints. Then, we rest an hour before we have to push again.”

The hits he took as a scout-team running back also served as good preparation for life in the sled where bodies rattle off the inside and dangerous crashes happen in an instant.

Future NFL Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch anchored the Blackshirt defense that Tomasevicz repeatedly ran into during practice.

Tomasevicz and the Americans failed to medal in 2006, but just making the team resulted in better training opportunities for him in the years following.

The football player turned bobsledder won for the first time at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid. NY.

A year later he would win again, as the American four-man team edged the Germans in the Vancouver Olympics. This time, however, the world was watching.

“Standing on that podium is definitely an amazing honor. The only better, bigger honor was going through opening ceremonies, representing your country to the rest of the world.” Tomasevicz said.

“It’s just a huge moment and I wish it would have lasted for more than a minute and a half. It’s hard to put it into words, what it means and how it feels.”

After the 2010 games, the former Husker reaped the benefits of being a gold medalist.

He took some time off from training to let his body recover. He spent his time giving speeches, making appearances and seeking out better sponsors so he could train full-time in preparation for the 2014 games.

Although they finished in third place in Russia, the Americans were four tenths of a second off of the gold.

Regardless whether he was a Class C-2 football player hoping to make the Nebraska football team or a former walk-on dreaming of Olympic gold, Tomasevicz has kept a simple outlook.

“Nobody ever really told me ‘No, you can’t do it,’ or ‘No, you’re not supposed to be able to do that,’” Tomasevicz said. “I just kind of kept setting goals and going for it, I guess.”

It’s part of the message he gives when he visits schools or speaks to young people. He also talks about overcoming fear, which he has experience with both on the field and the ice track,

Although there are similarities between his experiences on the grass and ice, he tries not to compare them.

“I grew up loving Husker football, wanting to be on the team. You know, maybe the Olympics are on a bigger stage, but it’s not something I grew up wanting to do,” he said.

“They mean different things to me in different ways.”