Chuck Berkeley's first Olympic games ended in heartbreak. Now, the Walnut Creek bobsledder is ready for his time in the Olympic spotlight. Janelle Wang reports.
Chuck Berkeley has been down this Olympic Road before, competing in the four-man bobsled in Vancouver back in 2010. Now the Walnut Creek Olympian is on track to compete in Sochi, but doing it in an unconventional way.
Berkeley does most of his weight training at a small gym in Pleasant Hill, thousands of miles away from the Olympic Training Centers. It's no-nonsense, and that's the way Berkeley likes it.
"I have such a busy schedule I have to be efficient in everything I do, so I'm not always worrying about bobsled," Berkeley said. "I've got work and kids. It's a very important part of my life, but it doesn't rule me."
At 37, he's working harder than some of his younger competitors and using his age as an advantage.
"It's speed work. It's strength training, and those things I've developed over the last 20 years. I do what works," Berkeley said. "I consider myself very fortunate to still be able to do this at this level, still beat up on some of the younger guys that live there full time."
Berkeley came to the sport in 2007, after filling out an online application.
"I got an invite to one of the rookie camps in '07, and from there I made the World Cup Team that same season and so it was a perfect fit," Berkeley said.
He was ready for a storybook ending with an Olympic medal in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, but a devastating crash cut short his dream.
"First you think this is scare, really scary, and painful, and then you come to the realization of what happened," Berkeley recalled with sadness. "Then you come to the realization that this is my Olympic games, it's probably over and it was."
Berkeley left the sport for a couple of years, but then returned last season, ready for redemption.
"It ended prematurely for me so that's a big reason why I'm coming back," Berkeley said. "I want a result next to my name."
Berkeley is enduring rigorous training, while still working full-time and helping to raise his two young daughters. We caught up with him and his two daughters, 11-year-old Amaya and 10-year-old Jesenia, days before he headed out to compete on the World Cup Circuit.
While his two girls will no doubt miss him on the road, they can't help but brag about his accomplishments.
"I'm really proud of him because he's been training a lot and he's been working as hard as he can to get the exercise he needs," Amaya said with obvious pride in her voice. Her little sister had a similar feeling. "You have to be really strong to do that and you have to go really fast," Jesenia added.
Berkeley is one of three bobsledders on the men's U.S. team that call the Bay Area home, but he says he was one of the first. The final team for Sochi won't be named until January, but Berkeley says he's confident his name will be on that list.