Carlo Valdes ready for the last Olympic races with USA Bobsled | News, Sports, Jobs

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By TIM REYNOLDS AP Sportswriter

BEIJING (AP) — Carlo Valdes is already set for life after bobsledding. He owns a financial planning firm, which he launched a few months after the Pyeongchang Olympics. And he could work with clients to help them with their full-time future right now, if he felt like it.

Instead, he’s in for an Olympic final.

The reason: He had to make sure USA Bobsled had a plan for his future before he retired.

Barring a change of heart, which seems unlikely, the Beijing Games will be Valdes’ last competition. He will be part of the crew pushing the American sled driven by Frank DelDuca in the four-man event which begins on Saturday and ends on Sunday, the final day of the Olympics.

“I want to make sure I help these young guys, not just to get them through this Olympic year, but beyond that,” Valdes said. “For me it’s my last ride. I want to do my best to make sure they understand what it takes to drive a sled and help keep the riders calm, do whatever they can to making sure everything is taken care of, so the riders can just focus on getting down the track, that’s what successful teams do.

And Valdes knows what it takes to succeed.

He was part of 10 medal races for the United States in World Cup competition, was a two-time Olympian and competed in three World Championships. He was the last person to push Steven Holcomb’s two-man sled in competition, was part of Holcomb’s last four-man team, and has slid internationally since some members of that U.S. Olympic team were in high school. .

“He’s a great role model,” said first-time Olympian Charlie Volker, a 24-year-old who is part of what USA Bobsled is counting on as the next wave of top athletes. “He spoke to me a few times when I was starting to get nervous before the season. I had these little injuries that kept coming back, and I think a lot of them were stress related. And Carlo just said, “Do what you do, control what you can control.” Simple Carlo helped me like a wise old teacher, a wise old man, someone who’s been there, did that.

Valdes is there to make sure the Americans end this Olympic cycle the right way, and in turn, his American teammates haven’t forgotten that this is his final.

It’s normal that he has never been a driver. Valdes prefers to be in the back of the sled, never wanting attention of any kind other than believing he has one of the best mustaches in the world. He hates “dad jokes”, the kind of lines that tend to draw something between moans and polite laughter. They bother him so much that veteran American skeleton athlete John Daly makes random FaceTime calls to Valdes telling such jokes. Daly even had a logo made up for the “Daly Dad Jokes,” posted Valdes’ grumpy reactions on his social media platforms, and always ended calls with a promise to do another one the next day.

Even in Beijing, Valdes pleaded with his teammates to stop singing “Happy Birthday” to him on the day he turned 32 last week. Around about the 20th version of the song, they honored his request.

Everything is done with deep respect. Valdes is loved. The team already knows he will be missed.

“I did my best,” Valdes said. “I just want to leave the sport in good hands and I tried to teach these guys everything I could.”

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