LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) - Eleven years after he was down and out, not knowing if his bobsled career was over after finishing 29th in the four-man World Cup standings, indefatigable Brian Shimer received the ultimate tribute.
Shimer, now head coach of the U.S. men's team, was inducted Saturday into the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Hall of Fame along with Jill Bakken, Tony Carlino and the late Eddie Eagan and Stan Benham.
Not bad for the man once called the greatest driver never to win an Olympic medal.
"I'm emotional, obviously at a loss for words," Shimer said, his voice cracking. "I never went down without somebody behind me. As I see all these faces here that were behind me, that have helped along the way, you just don't realize the team behind the team."
Shimer competed in five Winter Olympics, missing the four-man bronze at Nagano, Japan, in 1998 by 0.02 before finally getting his breakthrough moment. It came at Salt Lake City in 2002, when he took the bronze with a riveting final run.
"It was my last push," said Shimer, who coached Steven Holcomb to the four-man gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "That was a Cinderella story for me."
Bakken's breakthrough victory in women's bobsled at Salt Lake City remains a watershed moment for the entire U.S. team.
"It's a big honor," Bakken said. "We had no idea what we were doing."
Carlino, still a presence for the U.S. team today, was even more emotional than Shimer.
"This is probably the most proud moment of my life," the 62-year-old Carlino said. "So many people, so many memories. We'll always be together as a family."
It was the second class to be inducted. The first in 2008 included Jennison Heaton, Bill Napier and Billy Fiske, who at 16 in 1928 became the youngest gold medalist in the history of bobsled.
Eagan, who died in 1967, is the only athlete to win a gold medal in two different sports at both the summer and winter Olympics. He won the light heavyweight gold as a boxer in 1920 at Antwerp, Belgium, and was a member of Fiske's four-man bobsled team that won gold in 1932 at Lake Placid.
Benham, a star in the 1940s and 1950s, won two gold medals in four-man at worlds, as well as two four-man silvers and two two-man silvers. He also won silver in both two-man and four-man at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics.
Also Saturday, current U.S. women's driver Jazmine Fenlator, pilot of the FDNY bobsled, brakewoman Ingrid Marcum and former skeleton racer Zach Lund greeted members of three families who lost loved ones on 9/11. Fenlator's sled bears the names of the 343 New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.