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Wishing and fishing for an invitation, Nate Weber says his dream is to toss the coin before a Denver Broncos game, but in the meantime another one will be fulfilled when he competes as a bobsledder at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Weber, who grew up in Thornton, joined the Army after graduating from Legacy High School in 2005. He’s a Green Beret and has trained for bobsled in some unusual locales — the Sahara desert in Niger, a jungle in Cameroon and a base in Afghanistan where he once came under mortar attack while working out.

Currently his duty station is Fort Carson, but he’s often away to compete on the bobsled circuit with the blessing of his superiors. He left for South Korea on Wednesday and will compete Feb. 24-25.

“It’s absolutely surreal,” said Weber, whose 31st birthday is Thursday. “Hearing your name announced and seeing pictures and artwork of you with the name ‘Olympian’ beside it, it’s absolutely surreal. Words can’t really describe that. It’s also a huge relief, knowing that everything you’ve worked for and sacrificed hasn’t been for nothing.”

Nate Weber, who grew up in ...

Courtesy of Molly Choma

Nate Weber, who grew up in Thornton and went to Legacy High School, is going to the PyeongChang Olympics as a bobsled pusher. He’s a Green Beret and has trained for bobsled in some unusual locales — the Sahara desert in Niger, a jungle in Cameroon and a base in Afghanistan where he once came under mortar attack while doing a workout. Currently his duty station is Fort Carson, but he’s often away to compete on the bobsled circuit with the blessing of his superiors. He left for South Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and will compete Feb. 24-25.

Weber grew up wanting to serve in the military, a desire that only grew when he sat in a freshman class at Horizon High School and watched the twin towers fall on 9/11.

“You see it and you can’t believe it’s happening,” Weber recalled. “You want to go and right that wrong. It’s kind of the way I am.”

He transferred to Legacy the following year because his older brother went there and Legacy had a better wrestling program. Weber finished third in the state meet at 189 pounds his senior year. Three weeks after graduation he left for basic training. He served in the infantry for two years, stationed in the Washington D.C. area where he was assigned to military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and worked at the Pentagon for a time. As soon as he was eligible, he applied for Special Forces and was accepted on his first try.

While on a lunch break during Special Forces training, he came across a magazine article about Justin Olsen, a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program who won a gold medal as a bobsled push athlete at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“I thought, ‘Man, if that guy can win a gold medal, I can at least make the Olympic team,’ ” said Weber, who will be a pusher on the four-man sled Olsen drives in PyeongChang.

Weber began training for bobsled in 2012, and at first it wasn’t hard to make time for working out because he wasn’t deployed, but in 2014 he was sent to Niger where temperatures in the desert reached 130 degrees. His base had a good set of weights for workouts, but no one would touch them until the sun went down because they got so hot. He slept in cots and ate a lot of canned foods.

“If I never see any more canned chicken or tuna for the rest of my life,” Weber said, “I’d be incredibly happy.”

The following year he was stationed in Cameroon, near the equator in central Africa. It was hot and humid in the jungle with “bugs everywhere,” Weber said.

“There’s not really a whole lot of opportunity to train for something like bobsled, but it’s one of those things where you make it work. You’re doing sprints in the jungle and your partner forces are kind of looking at you like you’re crazy.”

Last summer in Afghanistan, a loud explosion interrupted a sprint workout he had just begun.

“I had just got done doing about 45 minutes of warming up,” Weber said. “I’m about two sprints into this workout, and one of these C-RAMs (“Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar”), which are big machine guns that shoot mortars out of the sky, goes off right next to me. It’s really loud, so it kind of gets my attention. I look up and maybe 75 meters above me, it shoots a mortar out of the sky. Bits and pieces of this thing start sprinkling down, nothing that hurts, but a couple pieces hit me on the arm. I’m like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, that thing was coming right for me, I need to go stand next to a wall.’ Then it really sinks in, ‘That thing was coming after me, it was going to land really close by.’

“That got my adrenaline going. My first thought was, ‘I bet I could run really fast right now, I’m already warmed up, I don’t want to waste this,’ so I kept running sprints.”

Codie Bascue, Nathan Weber, Carlo Valdes ...

Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images

Codie Bascue, Nathan Weber, Carlo Valdes and Samuel McGuffie of the USA compete in the 4-Man Bobsled during the BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup at Utah Olympic Park on Nov. 18, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

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