Time for Chuck Berkeley to work with bobsled team
February hasn't been a bad month for Pittsfield native Chuck Berkeley. But the member of the U.S. National Bobsled Team is hoping March is better.
That's when the 36-year old Berkeley starts his formal wall-to-wall training in an effort to make the U.S. Olympic team.
"It's all business," he said in a phone interview with the Eagle on Monday. "Starting March 1 is when I'll be starting hard core [training]."
The clock is ticking with just under a year to go until competition begins at Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 6, 2014. To mark the start of the countdown clock, Berkeley made an appearance on the "Today" Show on NBC back on Feb. 6.
Berkeley appeared on NBC to discuss the new bobsled the U.S. team will be using and to plug next year's Olympics. Later in the day, the former Pittsfield High School athlete closed the NASDAQ exchange.
"It was a great day in New York City," he said with a laugh.
Berkeley's day started with a quick television interview for New York's NBC affiliate. He then appeared on "Today," and was interviewed by Al Roker.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a little nervewracking," said Berkeley. "Everyone I knew was going to see it. I did an interview on WNBC and that got me a little warmed up for Al Roker."
Berkeley said the interview went well, and then he started hearing from lots of people, both on his phone and on his Facebook page.
"I could hear my phone going off while I was talking to Al," he said. It was an appearance that really got around.
"I was in the gym [Monday] morning, and one of the guys said ‘Hi Chuck. I saw you on TV,' " he said. "It's fun to have the fruits of your labor appreciated."
Come March 1, Berkeley will take a leave from his job as a sales representative for Stryker Corporation, a company that provides advanced surgical and medical equipment. Then he'll be all about trying to get back to the Olympics.
"I'm going to be pretty selfish in the next year. It's all or nothing," he said.
Berkeley has been involved in the sport of bobsled since 2007. He competed in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, took some time off, and returned for the 2012-13 season.
He has been in a two-man sled with Cory Butner and has been part of silver medal-winning performances in World Cup races at Lake Placid, N.Y., and Park City, Utah.
A brakeman in the two-man sled, Berkeley pushes from the left side in a four-man sled and sits behind the driver. He has been in a four-man sled with Butner driving.
The national trials will take place in October. The top three 4-man teams will go to Sochi. Berkeley said that should be the top three drivers and the nine best push athletes will travel.
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