Sliding into Silver - Y Magazine
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Sliding into Silver

After facing Olympic-sized obstacles, a former BYU athlete steps up to the medal stand.

A star in soccer, heptathlon, and bobsled, perhaps it was just a matter of time before BYU alumna Shauna L. Rohbock (BS ’99) won an Olympic medal. But as late as 2004, it didn’t look like she’d get the chance.

At the Salt Lake City games in 2002, Rohbock had been ousted from the bobsled team that went on to win gold. Not long after that, in December 2003, she was called up to active duty in the Utah National Guard.

After a few weeks of training in Salt Lake, she prepared to leave for Iraq, got the necessary shots, even packed her bags. Then, in a routine physical, a doctor diagnosed Rohbock with a torn rotator cuff—a leftover injury from her soccer days—that would ultimately disqualify Rohbock from military service, but not from racing. “Luckily for me,” Rohbock told the Associated Press. “I thought I was done.”

At the 2006 winter games in Turin, Italy, Rohbock won a silver medal in the women’s bobsled competition. After finishing the last of her four runs, a chilly, ecstatic Rohbock draped herself in the Stars and Stripes, the flag she serves in the Utah National Guard.

“It’s an amazing thing to win a medal for your country,” she told the AP. “We have the most beautiful flag, and I wanted to be wrapped in it.”

At Turin, Rohbock had assumed the driver’s seat—literally. She’d switched from a brakeman to a driver, and the switch had clearly paid off. “I always wanted to be a driver,” she told the AP, having won America’s only medal in the sledding events. “I didn’t like being a brakeman because I like to be in control.”

With teammate Valerie Fleming backing her up as brakeman, Rohbock completed four runs down the track with a total time faster than everyone but Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze. Rohbock and Fleming edged out the third-place Italy team by just four-tenths of a second.

Coming back to Utah after Turin, Rohbock celebrated, but not for long. At the beginning of March she was off for more training with the National Guard, off to represent the same Stars and Stripes she did in Turin, albeit in a different uniform.