Former track standout Steve Langton '01 may have arrived on and departed from the St. John’s campus before schoolmate and ice hockey forward John McCarthy, but this month in PyeongChang, South Korea, it’ll be youth leading the way with experience to follow. McCarthy '04 will make his Olympic debut in 10 short days, when the U.S. faces off against Slovenia, while Steve Langton will have to wait until the penultimate morning of the Games to compete in the four-man bobsled for a third time on one of the world’s biggest athletic stages. The pair is plenty pumped about suiting up for Team USA.
“I’m super excited,” said McCarthy, 31, now in his ninth season with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks organization. “It’s something you dream about it as a kid. To get the opportunity is pretty special.”
In spite of having raced for Team USA at both the Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014) Olympic Games, Langton departed for the Korean Peninsula late last week as giddy as during his first summit of sports’ Mount Olympus.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to represent the United States, and having the honor to do so three times is both rare and special,” said Langton, 34, who is one of nine push athletes selected to power three Team USA sleds in the four-man bobsled event. “I've appreciated the journey. The timing feels right for this to be my last Olympics. I am extremely excited for the next four weeks, but equally as excited for what comes next.”
To watch Steve Langton and John McCarty at the Olympic Games—Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony will begin at 8 a.m. ET on Friday, February 9. The Closing Ceremony takes place at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday, February 25. Team USA men’s ice hockey opens play on Wednesday, February 14 against Slovenia at 7:10 am ET with all U.S. hockey games being live-streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Bobsled qualifying heats will take place on Saturday, February 24 with the medal round scheduled for Sunday, February 25. This comprehensive schedule for every event at the 2018 Games offers a searchable tool to identify full streaming coverage as well as broadcast television windows.
A Fierce Competitor
A 6-foot-2, 227-pound Melrose native, Langton was a powerful and explosive track athlete in high school and has parlayed that remarkable skill-set, along with an awe-inspiring work ethic, into a pair of bronze medals in the two- and four-man bobsled four years ago, as well as four world championship medals, including two golds in 2012. Langton, who owns the most global medals on the 2018 bobsled squad, will ride in the third seat of a chassis piloted by budding star and 23-year-old driver Codie Bascue.
“Steve was easily one of the best pure athletes I’ve ever coached,” says John Klein, the Prep’s longtime varsity assistant track coach. “He had great lift and spring and he was real student of the hurdles and high jump, which translates well to bobsled. That’s a sport where every step and every motion is crucial. You’ve got to push that sled straight, get speed fast and drop into that cab seamlessly. I was really hoping he’d come back and was happy to hear he did."
At St. John’s, the 3-peat Olympian Langton was notorious for his ferocious weight room workouts, raw athleticism, and spring-loaded leg drive. Nearly two decades after his graduation, he still owns the school record in the 100-meter dash (10.7 seconds) and remains the only Eagles sprinter to win the Division 1 state title in the event. He was a member of an All-State champion 4x400-meter relay quartet that still holds the school record. Indoors, he still shares the Prep’s Long Jump Relay record.
After joining the U.S. National Bobsled team in 2007, Langton was named USA Bobsled Rookie of the Year for the 2007-2008 season, then won the US National Push Championship title in 2009. He has captured more than a dozen International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation World Cup medals. This past November, the International Olympic Committee handed down sanctions against Russian athletes who were doping at the 2014 Sochi Games. If the Court of Arbitration for Sport affirms the anti-doping rule violations, the IOC can reallocate the medals, meaning Langton’s double-bronze performance in Russia is set to become double-silver.
After appearing on the 2015 season of the CBS reality television show “The Amazing Race, Langton retired from sledding for more than two years before launching a comeback last January. Even so, his long layoff doesn’t have him feeling any pressure to reprise his past medal performances.
“To be completely honest, I feel less pressure this time around than I’ve ever felt heading into a Games,” he said. “Twelve months ago, I had no intention of returning to sliding, so I'm appreciating this experience for what it is. That being said, we have a talented team, one of the best starts in the world and with a little luck, we could do very well.”
With his inclusion on Team USA’s 23-man roster, McCarthy has now seen it all in the world of ice hockey. A veteran of more than 500 games as a pro, the Andover native co-captained an NCAA championship team at Boston University back in 2009, and led the Prep to back-to-back Super 8 tournament appearances in high school. The 6-foot-1, 194-pound lefty retains the same skill set that’s allowed him to play at a high level for so long. He’s athletic, skates to the whistle, mucks about in the corners well, wields a savvy stick in the circle and provides a calming, veteran presence on the penalty kill.
McCarthy’s former coach and 2015 Ryken Award recipient Bob Marinelli was chuffed to hear the news that his one-time All-Catholic Conference captain would represent Team USA as an Olympian. But he wasn’t particularly surprised.
“He was a player I could always depend on,” said Marinelli, now the Prep’s attendance officer, who spent 12 years at the Eagles helm following 13 years as an assistant. “He was the type of player you wanted on the ice at the end of a close game because there would be no mistakes. He would control the tempo. He had a very calming effect. His ability to be in the right place at the right time and just knowing the game were his strengths. John has very high hockey acumen.”
Team USA won’t have much time to gel on the ice as a unit. The Games open on February 9—eight years and one month to the day that McCarthy made his NHL debut—and the U.S. faces a tough Slovenia team, ranked No. 15 in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation (the U.S. is No. 5), on Valentine’s Day. The remainder of preliminary qualifying for the medal round doesn’t get any easier. The U.S. faces No. 11 Slovakia on Feb. 16 and No. 2 Russia on Feb. 17.
McCarthy will skate on the third and fourth offensive lines for the U.S. in addition to entering the game as part of the penalty-kill unit as well as taking faceoffs. He gives credit in part to his high school alma mater for instilling his longtime commitment to skating with his head up and keeping the proper perspective on life, on and off the ice, no matter which way the puck bounces.
“I did a lot of growing up at St. John’s,” said McCarthy, who scored 51 goals and passed for 56 assists as an Eagle, helping the program go 35-19-4 in regular-season play during his three years in a varsity uniform. “Teachers along with coaches like Mr. Marinelli and (current Athletic Director Jim) O’Leary instilled in me the importance of doing the right things on the field and ice, of course, but they emphasized it was equally if not more important to be a positive influence and put in the same effort in the community and classroom. That’s the lesson of my time there.”
Together, Langton and McCarthy bring the total number of Olympians to graduate from St. John’s to five. This elite corps of athletes includes Ray Carey IV ’91 (swimming), Robbie Doyle '67 (sailing) and Jimmy Pedro ’88 (judo). William D. Hayes, a track athlete who competed in the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium, attended the Prep for three years, but did not graduate from St. John’s.