Gansevoort, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Frank Hansen’s journey to becoming a US bobsledder is an interesting one, to put it mildly.
“People think you just jump on the sled and yahoo here we go but it’s not quite that easy,” Hansen said.
The Albany Native was a three-sport athlete who played collegiate baseball for LeMoyne College in Syracuse, and on a whim, he attended an open tryout for bobsledding. Just one ride had him hooked.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Hansen said. “I get down to the bottom my helmet was on sideways I had bit through my lip, I mean I was a wreck and I just said ‘Hey can we go again,’ and they just all started laughing and said ‘You’re a bobsledder.'”
After just missing the cut for the Olympic team in 1980, Hansen suffered a challenging setback. Caught up with the wrong people, he spent two years in prison on a drug possession charge. Hansen was determined to not let one mistake define him, and came back and made the team for the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo.
“I got to go from prison to the Olympics,” Hansen said. “Kind of like God threw me a bone. Like alright, you paid your dues, here.”
For Hansen, getting back in that sled knowing that might not be a possibility again made it that much sweeter.
“Kind of surreal,” Hansen said. “All of the sudden I’m back up in Lake Placid in god’s country and I’m bobsledding and I’m with the guys and it’s the Olympic trials.
“You couldn’t make that stuff up, you know,” Hansen said. “You could but nobody would believe you… but it actually happened.”
Luckily for Frank, he has plenty of mementos to remember the ’84 games by.
“This was the actual heat that I made the Olympic team in here,” Hansen said. “This sealed it. This is the one I said we came out of the tunnel and the place went nuts.”
Shortly after the ’84 games, Frank suffered a few knee injuries that put an end to his bobsledding career, but he kept his active lifestyle and supports US bobsledding to this day.
“I cheer for them as hard as I can,” Hansen said. “Go USA, I know what they’re going through.”
Frank’s biggest challenge yet came just a few years ago. Still a gym rat into his 60’s, he felt his leg five out leaving the gym and was later diagnosed with ALS. This latest physical hurdle was just another bump in the road for the former Olympian.
“Two words in my life are, adjust and adapt,” Hansen said. That’s what you do. It’s a progressive thing that slowly you realize ‘Oh alright I can’t do that way anymore I’ll do this, I’ll do it this way.'”
Frank’s hope now is to continue to bring awareness to a disease that has disproportionately affected former athletes.
“A friend of mine gave me this bracelet and on it said ‘never give up’ and that’s kind of my mantra,” Hansen said. “I’m never going to stop, I’m never going to quit fighting.”