#96 Curt Tomasevicz


Shelby, Nebraska, is one of the flattest towns in one of the flattest states in America. The elevation difference between the highest and lowest points is 7 feet. It is literally a town without a hill, one of the last places you’d expect to produce an Olympic gold medalist in bobsled.

But on Feb. 27, 2010, Shelby’s two bars were packed with Curt Tomasevicz’s old teachers and coaches and friends. When his sled crossed the finish line on a Canadian mountain, Shelby erupted in joy.

As Tomasevicz walked to the medal stand, NBC’s Bob Costas told TV viewers that Shelby has 690 people.

"I’m almost certain he’s the most famous person in Shelby, Nebraska."

Tomasevicz was a good (not great) athlete at Shelby High School who wanted to be an Air Force pilot. A broken collarbone on the football field ruined his hopes of passing the physical fitness test. He went to Nebraska instead, tried out for the Husker football team and played some special teams.

In 2004, he was looking for a way to stay in shape when a friend suggested bobsled. He laughed at first, thinking of "Cool Runnings." But he went to Canada for a tryout and realized how serious it was. He committed.

In ’06, he made the Olympics as a push athlete, finishing sixth in the four-man competition. Four years later, the "Night Train" blew away the competition outside Vancouver. Tomasevicz became the only Nebraskan ever to medal in the Winter Olympics.

He considered retirement, but returned for four more years, grabbing bronze in 2014. His team also won world championships in 2009 and ’12.

In December 2013, Tomasevicz invited friends and family to Park City, Utah, for a World Cup race, his last competition on American soil.

He anticipated 10 to 20 people might make the trip. He underestimated his hometown. When Tomasevicz crossed the finish line in first, almost 100 people from Shelby were cheering.

Quick facts about Tomasevicz

Related link: A Matrix reloaded: Sports to academics

Teams played for: Shelby, Nebraska, Team USA

Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Eric Crouch, whose raw speed and smooth demeanor left an impression on Tomasevicz. "He was always pretty gifted athletically and then wouldn’t take the out-of-bounds option very often. He was gonna be physical, too."

Best moment: The easy answer is winning the gold medal in four-man bobsled in 2010. But Tomasevicz actually remembers the moment just before the final run at the Olympics. The other teams had all left the warm-up area. It was just him and three teammates. "We didn’t want to talk about it; we just kinda looked at each other and smiled," he said. "I think that moment was kinda the calm before the storm. It was a pretty cool unspoken bonding time."

Early sign of greatness: He could dunk a women’s basketball in seventh grade. "I think that’s kinda when I knew I could jump a little bit."

Related link: A Matrix reloaded: Sports to academics