Melrose native Steve Langton will represent his country as a member of the U.S. national four-man bobsled team in the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

After wrapping up his collegiate track career, Steve Langton was looking to shift into a new gear.

The Melrose native and Northeastern University graduate was searching for a different kind of rush to fuel his never-ending need for speed. The Main Street resident appears to have found just that as he gets set to take on the world.

Langton will represent his country as a member of the U.S. national four-man bobsled team in the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

“Going to the Olympics is the first dream I can ever remember having,” said Langton, 26. “[But] for the majority of my childhood I believed it would be in track and field.”

Those track dreams took an unexpected detour four years ago after Langton watched the U.S. bobsled team compete in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. According to Langton, the speed and intensity of the sports mixed with the high level of competition quickly drew his interest.

Intrigued by the spectacle, he filled out an athlete resume online to attend a summer recruitment camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.

For Langton, riding in the bobsled is the ultimate rush.

“It’s like the most wild, fastest roller coaster ride you can imagine, multiplied by 100,” he said.

It didn’t take long before the Melrose resident pushed his way onto the team, earning a spot on the World Cup circuit in his first competitive season as a bobsled athlete. A fast learner, Langton was named the 2008 Rookie of the Year, before claiming the 2009 U.S. National Push Championship title.

After three highly successful years on the circuit, Langton was officially named to the Olympic team Jan. 31 in St. Moritz. He will be part of a four-man squad that also includes: John Napier of Albany, N.Y., Chuck Berkeley of Concord, Calif., and Chris Fogt of Alpine, Utah.

Currently ranked second in the world in four-man bobsled, Langton is thrilled to represent the Stars and Stripes.

“For me, it’s a way to give back to a country that has given me so much,” Langton said. “So many opportunities, including the opportunity to bring the U.S. great pride on the greatest stage on earth.”

Born and raised in an athletic household, Langton attended St. John’s Prep where he graduated in 2001.

“My father played Division 1 football in college,” Langton said “My brother Sean captained his collegiate track team at Trinity and my brother Chris is a middie for the Cornell Lacrosse Team.”

A sprinter and jumper during his days at Northeastern, Langton finished third in the 100-meter dash at the 2004 America East Outdoor Championship. In his final season, Langton took third in the 55-meter dash and fourth in the long jump at the indoor 2005 America East Championship. He also set his personal best in 2006, running a 10.58 in the 100-meters, and nailing a 23-8 in the long jump event.

But that’s nothing compared to flying down an icy track in a four-man bobsled.

“Last February at the test event in Whistler at the 2010 Olympic Track, four-man’s were reaching in excess of 95 miles per hour,” he said.

A push athlete on the four-man bobsled, Langton plays a pivotal role in getting his team off and running. The third person to jump into the sled, the 6-foot-2, 227-pounder needs pinpoint precision to give his team that extra jump.

“As push athletes, after we’re in the sled, we have to know where we are on the track at all times,” he said. “It is our job to load in the sled the same way every time to maximize our aerodynamics and get the sled’s ballast as low as possible.”

Langton and his team will have plenty of company in a highly competitive field. Two weeks ago, he cheered on Mike Kohn, a USA III pilot that qualified his team as the third American sled for the Olympic games.

“Everything was on the line and he prevailed,” Langton said. “For me, that was the most amazing sports experience I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of.”

Kohn’s crew of Jamie Moriarty, Billy Shuffenhaur and Nick Cunningham, along with a four-man sled team of Steven Holcomb, Justin Olsen, Steve Melser and Curtis Tomasevicz, give the U.S. three chances to medal.

The final event at this year’s games, Langton is hoping to save his very best for last.

“Go, USA,” Langton said.

Contact Christopher Hurley at churley@cnc.com.

Steve Langton’s career highlights

2009-10: World Cup as push athlete for Todd Hays and John Napier in the four-man

Sixth in Park City (11/09)

Silver in Lake Placid (11/09)

Fifth in Winterberg (12/09)

10th in Altenberg (12/09)

Bronze in Konigssee (1/10)

11th in St. Moritz (1/10)

 

2009-10 World Cup as brakeman for Todd Hays & John Napier in the two-man

Silver in Park City (11/09)

10th in Winterberg (12/09)

18th in Konigssee (1/10)

15th in St. Moritz (1/10)

12th in Igls (1/10)

 

2009-10 America's Cup as push athlete for Todd Hays in the four-man

Gold in Park City #2 (12/09)

Gold in Park City #3 (12/09)

 

2009-10 America's Cup as brakeman for Todd Hays in the two-man

Gold in Park City #1 (12/09)

Gold in Park City #2 (12/09)

 

2008-09 America’s Cup in the four-man

Gold in Lake Placid #1 (4/09)

Gold in Lake Placid #2 (4/09)

 

2008-09 America's Cup in the two-man

Gold in Lake Placid (4/09)