A trio of Army sergeants have punched tickets to Pyeongchang, South Korea, next year, qualifying in the luge event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Sgt. Emily Sweeney earned her spot in the women’s singles event prior to the World Cup race in Lake Placid, New York, over the weekend on the strength of her performances at top-level events throughout 2017. She’s the first soldier to claim an Olympic spot for the 2018 games, according to an Army news release.
Sgts. Taylor Morris and Matt Mortensen needed strong performances at Lake Placid to solidify their spots. Morris finished a career-best fifth in the men’s singles international field to claim the third and final Team USA solo spot, while Mortensen and civilian teammate Jayson Terdiman broke a track record in their first doubles run before setting for a fifth-place overall finish, enough to claim an Olympic spot.
All three soldiers are part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which allows soldiers to continue active or reserve-component service while training for elite-level athletic competition. Another WCAP member, Staff Sgt. Jake Hyrns, missed out on a spot in the men’s doubles event and will serve as an Olympic alternate.
More WCAP soldiers will attempt to qualify for bobsledding and skeleton slots on Team USA in the coming weeks, according to an Army release, as will 2nd Lt. Parker Gahagen, a U.S. Military Academy graduate and goaltender who is hoping to land a spot on the Olympic ice hockey roster. This will be the first year since 1994 without National Hockey League players in the Olympics; Gahagen, who has a developmental deal with the San Jose Sharks but is not on the team’s main roster, is WCAP’s only team-sport athlete.
The Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 9-25.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.