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Posted: Sep 1, 4:37p ET | Updated: Feb 28, 2:09p ET

Speaking with Steve Holcomb

What was it like to win the world title in 2009?

It was incredibly thrilling to win the World Championships. It hasn't been done for an American in 50 years and that was huge, especially to do it on American turf, in our own back yard. It was really cool and just something. You know, I have seen people win the World Championships for the last 12 years... To finally come out and not only just win the World Championships, but we dominated - we won by almost a second... It was just a thrilling moment to come through and have all the Americans there to see it. It wouldn't have been as cool to win a World Championship in Germany where the Germans are like mad at you. So it was pretty cool. I think it is going to help boost our confidence going into next year - the confidence is going to be huge because now we know we can do it.

Team Holcomb strikes a pose: Justin Olsen, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steve Mesler and Steve Holcomb.  
Team Holcomb strikes a pose: Justin Olsen, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steve Mesler and Steve Holcomb.  

What can you tell us about the Night Train?

The story of the Night Train is actually confidential. Actually, I don't know the whole story. Our engineer told it to me once, but it was kind of a quick thing. We brought the sled out the first time ever in Park City. We raced it, and we thought it was fast, but it was never supposed be used for the season. So all we did was painting with black primer and that was it. Well, we liked it so much that we asked them to use it all season. We took it back to have it painted, but they didn't have enough time... Nobody knew about it until we pulled it out of the crate in Europe. And it was pretty shocking, but we thought it was pretty cool, and it still looks cool. It is the only sled on the track that is not shiny. I think it actually looks pretty intimidating. I know it intimidates a lot of drivers and athletes. And I think that plays in our advantage, so it's pretty cool.

How did you come to name one of the curves on the Olympic track at Whistler?

During the first day of four-man training, the [sleds] went down and only half of them made it through curve 13... We were just joking around in the garage like, you have a 50-50 chance of making it through that curve. So we thought we should name it 50-50, just put a sign up, just as a joke - trying to keep the mood light because it was a lot of pressure. It was very serious and intimidating. So we drew up a little sign on a brown paper bag with markers, put it up, and it just kind of stuck. The ice meister there - the guy who was in charge of the ice in the track - liked it. He was like, it is official, it's definitely going out. So it was pretty cool. We named the curve. That's something that not many people get to do and hopefully our legacy will live on forever.

You came very close to retiring because of a degenerative eye condition. Can you explain what happened?

It got to a point in 2008 where I just couldn't see any more and they couldn't make contacts strong enough. And I went to my coach and told him that I had to quit, I had to retire because it was becoming a safety issue. I can't see any more. It is one thing to be kind of blurry, but it is a whole other thing to just literally not be able to see. So he worked hard and found some people to help out and eventually found a doctor in Beverly Hills that does a new procedure... Basically he just puts some riboflavin in your eye and hits it with a UV light and it helps strengthen the eye and keeps it from getting worse. And then, in order to improve my vision, they put a lens inside of my eye... it is basically a contact lens inside my eye, right behind my iris. It was about 10 minutes, and as soon as I was up, I could see 20/20. And it has been pretty incredible ever since - literally a year later I am the world champion.

You spend some time training with Katie Uhlaender. How did that come about?

Katie is really tough. She is a daredevil at heart and she's really fun to work out with. She is one of my closest friends. We train together - she pushes me and I push her a little bit. And it is really nice to have an actual friend on the team that is not a business partner essentially. The guys on my team are my friends, but at the same time, it is a business relationship with them. If I have to cut them loose, it is hard to tell your best friend to hit the brick.

How much work goes on behind the scenes in bobsled?

Bobsledding is 90 percent work and two percent bobsledding and maybe eight percent fun. The only thing people see is the bobsledding part actually in the track. But there is so much that goes on before that. Prepping the sled, maintaining the sled, getting the sled to the track - that is one of the hardest parts. It is a 500-pound sled - you can't just throw it up on your shoulder and carry it. It takes four to six guys to move it... And all summer our engineers are refurbishing the sleds and rebuilding them and building new ones and trying new designs and wind tunnel testing, and runners, blades on the sled - different shapes, different sizes. There is so much that goes into two minutes a day, and hundredths of a second. It is almost mind-boggling how close everything is - when you beat somebody by half a second, you really kick their butt... But when you lose by a hundredth of a second, that is devastating.

Compiled by Lee Ann Gschwind, NBCOlympics.com

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