Future PJ Guest Star: Gold Medal Bobsledder

by Kathy Davis on April 14, 2010

Olympic Gold Medal Bobsledder Curt Tomasevicz

Olympic Gold Medal Bobsledder Curt Tomasevicz

Ah, I’ve always known that Pearl Jam inspires passions in intense and wonderful ways.  Their music and dedication has often served as the launchpad which has united  couples, started bands, healed the sick, improved the environment, inspired advocacy – the list goes on and on. The band’s impact is far-reaching and deeply tangible.  A most recent example of Pearl Jam’s impact is the story of U.S. Gold Medalist Curt Tomasevicz .  The 4-Man Bobsled brakesman is a pretty huge Pearl Jam fan, and his love for them has been rewarded in the ultimate way. Here’s a look at Curt’s PJ-fueled journey.

Back in February, Entertainment Weekly posted the  playlist of what he listens to prior to competition, and here’s what he had to say about our boys:

PJ Songs selected:

“Better Man” by Pearl Jam
“Simply put: greatest song ever. I love the sound, feel, and lyrics”

“Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam
“Mike McCready playing great guitar & Eddie Vedder’s wonderful singing. It can be interpreted different ways for different people. It’s a somber and deep meaningful song to me.”

“Before I compete, I listen to Pearl Jam, Rearview Mirror Disc 1. The songs get me going and build my adrenaline. Pushing a bobsled is one big burst of energy, so I need to build my focus to climax at one brief moment. This type of music does that for me.

“I play bass guitar and love just jamming and playing for hours to great songs. My dream day would be a jam session with Pearl Jam. Could that be arranged?”

Well, we don’t know if that will happen, but it looks like the first step toward fulfilling Curt’s dream is in place: Pearl Jam have invited him to be their guest at the show of his choice on their upcoming tour! How do we know this? Well…

The Nebraska native’s local newspaper, the Grand Island Independent posted a great story detailing Tomasevicz’s recent hometown visit to Grand Island Central Catholic High School.   It’s Pearl Jamtastic!

Sarah Golka, 16, (second from left) smiles at her sister, Katie Golka, 13, as Olympic gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz looks over a framed autographed Pearl Jam tour poster and letter from the band given to him by the sisters. Their mother, Chris Golka (right), looks on during a speaking engagement by Tomasevicz at Grand Island Central Catholic on Tuesday. The letter says that Tomasevicz can "jam" with Pearl Jam at a concert of his choice, thereby fulfilling one of Tomasevicz's goals. The Golka family lived in Shelby with Tomasevicz before moving to Grand Island a few years ago. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Sarah Golka, 16, (second from left) smiles at her sister, Katie Golka, 13, as Olympic gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz looks over a framed autographed Pearl Jam tour poster and letter from the band given to him by the sisters. Their mother, Chris Golka (right), looks on during a speaking engagement by Tomasevicz at Grand Island Central Catholic on Tuesday. The letter says that Tomasevicz can "jam" with Pearl Jam at a concert of his choice, thereby fulfilling one of Tomasevicz's goals. The Golka family lived in Shelby with Tomasevicz before moving to Grand Island a few years ago. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Tomasevicz gets surprise from GICC, Pearl Jam

By Harold Reutter
harold.reutter@theindependent.com
Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 11:19 PM CDT

Central Catholic students and faculty got a glimpse at Curtis Tomasevicz’s life since the Winter Olympics.

He’s been on a ride as wild and exhilarating as a four-man run down the Whistler bobsled track in Vancouver, British Columbia.

After talking about his experiences as the brakeman on the gold-medal Olympic bobsled team, Tomasevicz was besieged by Central Catholic students and teachers wanting him to sign a slip of paper, a shoe, a baseball batter’s glove, a T-shirt, a forearm, a cellphone and other miscellaneous items.As some students waited to get autographs, they took the opportunity to pick up Tomasevicz’s Olympic gold medal, drape it around their neck and have a friend snap their picture by using a cellphone camera.

In the midst of signing autographs, Tomasevicz would periodically get pulled away from the table so he could have his picture taken standing alongside students, faculty members and others.

This has been his life ever since the Olympics.

“I’ve probably signed my name more in the last four weeks than I have in my entire life,” said Tomasevicz when the autograph session finally ended.

But even in his post Olympic euphoria, Tomasevicz can still be surprised. That happened at the end of his talk to Central Catholic students, teachers and guests.

Chris Golka, his former CCD teacher in Shelby, noted Tomasevicz had said in a television interview he had three goals in life.

One was to win an Olympic gold medal, which he accomplished in Vancouver.

Another was to throw out the opening pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, which will be accomplished in June.

Golka said Tomasevicz’s third wish was to jam with rock band Pearl Jam.

At that point, Golka’s daughters, Sarah, a Central Catholic junior, and Katie, a Central Catholic seventh-grader, came out bearing a framed and signed Pearl Jam poster from the group’s 2009 Australia tour that showed a skateboarder.

At that point, Tomasevicz’s mouth opened just a little in surprise.

Then Golka gave Tomasevicz another surprise: Pearl Jam has invited the Shelby native to be a guest at the concert of his choice.

* * *

The affect Pearl Jam’s music has had on Curt’s Olympic success is no small one.  In an article from Omaha.com, he outlines how “Rearviewmirror” stirs his inner competitive fire:

Off the track, friends on the U.S. women’s team devise ways to annoy him — a playful slap on the cheek usually works — just to see if he’s capable of emotion.

Yes! We made Curt mad!

But on the track, he hears Pearl Jam’s “Rearviewmirror” and his breaths quicken. His heart stirs. He stores energy and, on command, unleashes power.

“By the time I walk to the line, I’m almost on the verge of tears.”

In second profile from Omaha.com, Curt talks about a serendipitous Vedder encounter:

On a summer day in college, Curt Tomasevicz took a break from Nebraska football workouts and engineering courses. He journeyed to Chicago.

To Wrigley Field, where he sipped Old Style and watched the Cubs face their south side rivals.

During the seventh-inning stretch, high above home plate, his favorite artist sang “Take me out to the ballgame.”

When Eddie Vedder told the crowd to “Root, root, root for the Cubbies,” Curt thought he’d stumbled into heaven.

“I call it the greatest day of my life,” says Tomasevicz, a Shelby, Neb., native.

If all goes well the next two days in Vancouver, there might be competition for that label.

Tomasevicz, the 29-year-old brakeman on the top U.S. bobsled team, will compete for gold in the 4-man event, which begins this afternoon. Two heats Saturday follow today’s two. The lowest total time wins.

Tomasevicz’s team won the World Championship in 2009 and the World Cup in 2010. Some consider USA 1, piloted by Steve Holcomb, the Olympic favorite. America hasn’t won gold since 1948.

But to win, the U.S. must knock off Germany and driver Andre Lange.

Lange has won four Olympic golds in bobsledding, including last week’s victory in the 2-man. Tomasevicz is still seeking his first medal.

Someday he’d like to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley. Someday he’d like to play guitar with Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam.

Two pipe dreams, he says.

You never know, Curt. It’s hard to say no to an Olympic champion.

Indeed.  Look for Curt at a PJ show coming soon – Kansas City or St. Louis might be good bets for an appearance!

Olympic Platinum, baby!

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

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