Bobsledder Steve Holcomb was found dead in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., yesterday at the age of 37.
The cause of death is unclear, though no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is scheduled for today, and it is believed that he died in his sleep.
Holcomb won three Olympic medals for Team USA—including a gold in 2010, piloting the four-men sled that broke the United States’ 62-year first-place drought in the event. He went on to win two bronze medals in 2014 and was training for the 2018 Games at the time of his death. He was also a five-time world champion.
“The only reason why the USA is in any conversation in the sport of bobsled is because of Steve Holcomb,” U.S. bobsled pilot Nick Cunningham, who roomed next to Holcomb in Lake Placid, told the Associated Press as part of an obituary that’s well worth your time. “He was the face of our team. He was the face of our sport. We all emulated him. Every driver in the world watched him, because he was that good at what he did. It’s a huge loss, huge loss, not just for our team but for the entire bobsled community.”
Holcomb’s 2012 autobiography But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold chronicles his struggles with the eye disease keratoconus, which slowly degenerated his vision until a surgery saved his sight and, by extension, his bobsledding career. He also wrote of how the disease pushed him toward depression, which led to struggles with alcohol and drugs as well as a failed hotel-room suicide attempt in 2007.
“After going through all that and still being here, I realized what my purpose was,” Holcomb said in a 2014 interview with the AP.