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LDS bobsledder ready for Games

Chris Fogt watches results at the finish area during a Park City World Cup event.
Chris Fogt watches results at the finish area during a Park City World Cup event.
U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Chris Fogt was running track for Utah Valley University in Orem when a couple of men approached him and asked him a question that would take his well-planned life in a totally different direction.

"After my race, some guys said, 'Hey you're pretty fast. Do you want to try pushing a bobsled?'" the American Fork High graduate recounts. "I didn't know anything at all about the sport."

Which is why his parents were a little surprised he jumped at the chance to give it a try.

"It was kind of out of the blue," said his mom, Janet Fogt. "He was just a track athlete at UVU and then all of a sudden he was trying out for (the U.S.) bobsled team. It was just foreign to us. We were skeptical at first, but we're very happy for him."

The decision to give the strange, new sport a try earned the 26-year-old Mormon a spot on the 2010 U.S. Olympics Team. He pushes for USA-2 and driver John Napier on Friday and Saturday at Whistler Olympics Park for a chance at a medal.

"I always wanted to go to the Olympics," Chris said with a slight smile. "I wanted to go in track and field. I just wasn't quite fast enough."

The former sprinter made the Olympics team in just his second year in the sport.

"Within a year I felt pretty comfortable," he said.

Fogt's family is flying and driving into Vancouver this week so they can watch him compete in the most elite competition there is. For William Fogt, it is a little overwhelming at times to consider that his son, who is also a member of the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence, is representing his country and his family in such a unique way.

"We didn't know how he would perform when he tried out," William Fogt said. "It's combination of strength and speed. He's always been really strong, too, but we just didn't know. To compete at a world level, you always wonder does your son have what it takes? It's been a pretty humbling enterprise to tell you the truth."

William Fogt is a retired military man who tried to instill certain values in his children that would help them succeed and be happy.

"We've always tried to help Christopher to be grounded in humility, hard work and faith," William Fogt said. "Even if you have success. He's tried to be a good example and be a good missionary to his teammates."

Fogt enjoyed working with the missionaries when he was training in Lake Placid, N.Y., his father said. And he is grateful for the opportunities his athletic ability has given him to be a role model for young people.

"Christopher was in the top 4 percent of ROTC cadets," his father said. "He's always been at the top. I know it's because of his faith and his relationship with the Lord that he's been able to do all of that. To be at the top, like this, I think he's humbled by that, too. I think he knows how he got there."

William and Janet Fogt will follow the example of their son, who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, when they arrive in Canada on Thursday.

"We plan to do a little missionary work in Whistler," William Fogt, a former Church Educational System institute teacher, said as he and his wife drove through Washington state. "We'll just use the spirit and try to share the gospel. It's an unbelievable experience. We're just going to go out and plant seeds. You never know."

"We've never been to the Olympics," Janet Fogt said. "We're just excited to watch him. He is having a wonderful time. It's a chance of a lifetime to be in the Olympics."

Chris Fogt's family has always been a little concerned about the dangers of bobsledding, but those concerns were amplified when a 21-year-old luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia was killed in a training run on the track the day before Opening Ceremonies.

"Most parents are praying for medals," William Fogt said. "We're praying for the safety of the athletes. We'll be happy if they do well and everyone is safe.

We have a little anxiety because of this track. … But I'm sure the good Lord will bless these young men."

Even before Chris arrived for the Games, he talked about how unique the Whistler track is for even experienced athletes.

"It's a pretty crazy track," he said. "Normally you feel the pressure but you don't feel the speed. This track you can actually feel the speed. You can feel and hear the wind around me."

He said it is not scary for him because he trusts Napier, who must guide the sled.

"I don't control anything," he said. "I just get in the sled and hope and pray we don't crash."

Fogt was involved in a crash in Germany earlier this season that ended the career of veteran Mike Hays.

"Me and Chuck (Berkeley) and Steve (Mesler) were in the sled with him and we switched over to John after the crash," Fogt said. "He was taking a test sled down the track on a rainy, foggy, dark afternoon and the visibility was poor. The sled toppled over near the bottom of the track, with Hays' helmet skidding along the ice."

Hays suffered bleeding in his brain that ended his bobsled career. Fogt is enjoying his Olympics experience, but plans to return to full-time military service when the Games end.

"I like my job in intelligence," he said, adding he's grateful the military allowed him to follow his Olympics dream. "I plan on serving 20 years at the moment."

He said being the only LDS athlete on the U.S. bobsled team is no different than being the lone Mormon in many of his school and work experiences.

"I try and carry myself a little differently," he said. "I don't want to make (the church), the Army, myself of my family look bad — ever."