Kidney transplant recipient wins rookie push title |

Kidney transplant recipient wins rookie push title

Driver Nick Cunningham and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor of the United States start a two-man bobsled training run at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Feb. 17.
Michael Sohn / AP | AP

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Olympic hopeful Quentin Butler freely acknowledges he’s terrified to take his first trip down the ice on the Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding track in the Adirondacks this fall.

Then again, he’s been through scarier stuff.

Butler was one of the winners of the 2017 reality show “Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.” His priorities changed, however, when he learned after the show he was seriously ill and needed a kidney transplant. On Saturday, he was one of four sliders who prevailed at USA Bobsled and Skeleton’s rookie push championships in Lake Placid.

Butler won the men’s skeleton crown. Karmin Shute, a track and field athlete from Birmingham-Southern, was the women’s skeleton winner. Former Penn football player Kyle Wilcox won in men’s bobsled and former LSU-Shreveport women’s basketball player Sylvia Hoffman won in women’s bobsled.

“I couldn’t compete in rookie push camp last year because I had kidney failure,” Butler said. “I was invited to this one and I took the opportunity to get back into this. I was just released to begin doing activity again three weeks ago, so why not come out and see what I can do? And it turned out pretty good.”

Next up for Butler and other invitees from rookie camp: on-ice training, which starts in Lake Placid in October.

“I’m excited for it, but I’m terrified,” Butler said. “I don’t ride roller coasters, and I feel like it’s the same concept. It’s going to be a new experience, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Butler and Kris Horn actually tied for the best two-start combined time of 7.12 seconds, but Butler was crowned the winner because he had the fastest individual push of the wheeled sled. Wilcox, the bobsled winner, was also third in the skeleton event.

“It’s a little crazy,” Wilcox said. “Literally everyone is so athletic here and you’re like, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t know what to do.’”

That’s the whole point of rookie camp, especially in the season that follows the Olympics — as USA Bobsled and Skeleton starts the process of restocking talent and trying to find athletes who can develop going into the 2022 and 2026 Games. Forty-two rookie hopefuls competed Saturday.

“I’m really impressed with the quality and talent this pool of athletes displayed at this year’s camp,” USABS director of athlete development Mike Dionne said.

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