Whitehall’s Bascue going to Winter Olympics for bobsled

Area bobsled fraternity gets new member
Codie Bascue of Whitehall is headed to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Codie Bascue of Whitehall is headed to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The official announcement came just last week. Codie Bascue, from Whitehall, will be a part of the USA men’s bobsled team that will compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics that begin less than two weeks from now in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

It is really no surprise. Bascue, 23, has been the leading driver for the U.S. on the World Cup circuit this winter, earning three medal finishes so far, including a victory in a two-man event at Lake Placid in November. He is expected to drive USA I in both the two-man and the four-man Olympic compet­itions. 

Bobsled is a sport where most of the national caliber competitors have had success in other sports, thus are older than most Olympic athletes when they begin their focus on sliding. Bobsled drivers like Brian Shimer and Todd Hayes, who led the U.S. back into international contention in the 1990s, were collegiate football standouts before taking to the ice run.

Bascue is an exception. While he did quarterback his Whitehall High School football team, his primary sports focus has always been the bobsled since his grandfather, a former slider, took Codie to the track in Lake Placid for the first time when he was 8 years old. He has been a regular ever since, even to the point of passing up college enrollment after high school to focus on competition. Sound familiar?

Just a few years ago, it was Schenectady native John Napier who was climbing the success ladder in bobsled as a teenager. His dad Bill was a bobsled competitor for many years and once served as president of the U.S. Bobsled Federation. John grew up spending winters at the track in a family home on the access roads to Mt Van­Hoevenberg.

By the time he was a teenager, John was comfortable around the track. His early results were encouraging. He earned a spot on the World Cup competition roster and won a two-man event at Lake Placid. He was named to the U.S. Olympic team and finished 11th in the two-man competition at Vancouver in 2010. A few days later, the four-man sled he was driving flipped and the Napier team was out of the Olympics.

Then he surprised a lot of people when he took time off from competing and served in Afghanistan with his National Guard unit. After his tour, Napier came back to bobsledding for a season.

Although still in his 20s and expected to continue competing, Napier disappeared from the sport. Originally intending to go back into the military, an injury sent him in another direction. Now, 10 years later, he is back in Lake Placid.

Napier says his compet­ition days are over due to injuries, but he has something else in mind with the sport. He is studying to be a chiropractor, and when not in school, he is in Lake Placid working with kids and, even closer to his heart, working with injured veterans interested in sliding.

When he finishes his degree, now expected in 18 months, his plan is to be in Lake Placid full time.

The sport can create that kind of connection, it seems. It is a close community

Tuffy Latour, a 1986 Linton High School graduate, didn’t think much about bobsledding as a teenager even through his grandfather and namesake competed for the U.S. in the sport at the 1948 Winter Games. It wasn’t until he was in the Army, stationed in Germany, that he took an interest in the sport and he returned home to compete in the 1990s. He has worked in the sliding sports ever since he retired as a racer, coaching with the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, and the Canadian national team. Since 2010, he has been the head coach of the U.S. Skeleton team. His team building efforts have resulted in successes on each assignment. 

Latour now lives in Saranac Lake, but his mom and three brothers continue to live in Schenectady.

Both Latour and Napier have followed Bascue’s career closely. For one thing, the Whitehall native who trains in Lake Placid is the only 2018 Winter Olympian the Capital Region can claim as its own. Alpine superstar Mikaela Shiffrin has family in Berkshire County, two-time alpine skiing medalist Andrew Weibrecht and multi-time Winter Olympians Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke both live in Lake Placid and women’s cross country hopeful Sophie Caldwell is from southern Vermont. Luger Tucker West is a student at Union College, while teammates Frank Mazdzer and Erin Hamlin are from the Adirondacks.

There are plenty of area competitors to cheer for. But Bascue is the closest we have to a hometown favorite.

How is he feeling heading into the games? 

“I am healthy.” he said last week. “My whole team, thankfully, is extremely healthy and at peak performance right now, which is a great sign heading into the games.

“I like the track in Korea because there are so many driving styles on it. There are a lot of long, flowing curves like in Park City so it is def­initely beneficial that I have a lot of experience in Utah.”

Bascue has been teaming with former University of Michigan football running back Sam McGuffie all season and the two are in the top 10 in the current world rankings. But he is learning to love the teamwork required in the four-man event just as much. “We are racing and training as a team now, so I think we can build that team aspect quick.”

Bascue will have plenty of hometown support in Korea. His parents, grandparents and sister are all planning to be there for the competition


There is a new name for the Lake Trail Return run at the Lapland Lake Cross Country Ski Center. It will be called “Olavin Uni” — Olavi’s Dream in Finish — in honor of Lapland’s founder and former owner Olavi Hirvonen. A ceremony to dedicate the renaming of the trail is being planned for later this season. 


In the 1980s, the small ski area Bosquet in Pittsfield, Mass., produced three of the top U.S. women Alpine skiers: Heidi Voelker, and the Schmidinger twins, Krista and Kim. “Fly Baby: The Story of an American Girl” is an entertaining memoir of that time written by Kim Schmidinger Jochl, and just published by Wilifred Lee Books. 


The pumphouse fire that shut down the snowmaking system at Bromley last month has been repaired, and that means our area’s fourth-oldest ski hill is now back in full operation.

Phil Johnson can be reached at [email protected].

Categories: Sports

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