Steve Holcomb was found dead on May 6, 2017. At the time, the 37-year-old bobsledder was at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, getting ready for the 2018 Winter Games with his team. According to the coroner, Holcomb likely died from pulmonary congestion. A toxicology report showed that he had alcohol and pills in his system at the time of his death, according to NBC Sports.
Holcomb was never married and did not have any children. His former girlfriend, Tristan Gale Geisler, attended the memorial services for him last year. Gale Geisler is an Olympic gold medalist. She and Holcomb dated over a decade ago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Said Holcomb Was Her First Love
Gale Geisler dated Holcomb when she was fairly young. He was actually one of the reasons that she got into Skeleton, a single-rider bobsledding discipline in which a person rides a sled traveling head-first on a frozen track.
“I started sliding in Park City when my then boyfriend Steven Holcomb went to try out for the bobsled team. This is when I heard about skeleton for the first time,” Gale Geisler told Cole McKeel in an interview for Team USA’s official website back in 2014.
Gale Geisler and Holcomb remained friends after they ended their romantic relationship. In fact, Holcomb mentioned Gale Heisler in his book, But Now I See: My Journey from Blindness to Olympic Gold, thanking her for her support “through thick and thin.”
Gale Geisler spoke to the press following a memorial service that was held for Holcomb last year.
“He overcame things that would’ve broken a lesser man. His big brown eyes were one of the things that I loved the most about him. They could speak for him when he was not feeling like it, which was often,” Gale Geisler told the Salt Lake City Tribune in June. She also said that “love was one of Holcomb’s most remarkable character traits.”
2. She Married Jonathan Geisler in 2008 & They Have 2 Children
Gale Geisler married her husband, Jon Geisler, in 2008. The two had an outdoor wedding and showed off their mutual love for winter sports, wearing skis when they exchanged vows.
Jon Geisler is a U.S. Marine helicopter pilot. In 2010, he served in Afghanistan.
The Geislers have a son named Grey, who will be 4 in March, and a 19-month-old daughter named Brynn.
Tristan Gale Geisler is currently a full-time, stay-at-home mom. Her Facebook profile lists her profession as a mom to Grey and Brynn. A “job description” reads, “24 hour slave labor and I love it.”
3. She Won a Gold Medal in Skeleton at the Salt Lake City Olympics
Growing up in Utah, just about everyone expected Gale Geisler to become a professional skier (even she thought so, at one point), but she ended up falling in love with skeleton — and she was really good at it.
“I probably would have skied at a collegiate level, but I would not have been as successful at it as I was skeleton. You never know what sport you are going to have a natural talent for unless you try it and that is what happened to me and sledding. I was hooked from the very first run down the track,” she told McKeel.
She competed in the World Cup during the 2001-2002 season and ended up qualifying for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. The location of the Games couldn’t have been more perfect for her. Although she had moved to Southern California, Gale Geisler she was able to practice on home ice, so to speak.
However, on the day of her competition, the weather decided not to cooperate.
“The day I won my gold medal was the only day of the 2002 Olympic Games that it snowed. Snow is not my favorite weather condition, so I wasn’t thrilled, but Park City is my hometown track and I felt prepared for whatever came my way,” she told McKeel.
Gale Geisler not only secured a gold medal — the first ever women’s gold in skeleton — but she also set an Olympic record, finishing with a time of 52.26.
4. She Retired Before the 2006 Olympics
Gale Geisler retired before the 2006 Olympics in Torino. Her incredible win was something that she will never forget, however. In fact, it’s something that still makes her proud to this day.
“When you see your flag and your anthem played, in your hometown, it’s an indescribable moment. It’s something I couldn’t plan for or even have expectations for because it was beyond anything I could have imagined. I don’t think that ever diminishes with time,” she told the Deseret News last February.
After retiring, Gale Geisler attended MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California, where she studied art.
5. Her Gold Medal Was Stolen in 2011
After winning her medal, Gale Geisler went back home to California. In 2011, however, she was a victim of a robbery. While she was out walking her dog, her house was ransacked by burglars, who managed to scoop up a few items, including her coveted gold medal.
“Geisler says burglars broke into her Oceanside home through a first-floor alley window while she was walking her dog [January] 26. A neighbor noticed the suspicious activity and wrote down a license plate number,” ESPN reported at the time. The burglars also made away with “her Olympic ring, a computer hard drive containing family photographs and [more].”
About a week later, California police found the men responsible for the burglary — and were able to recover Gale Geisler’s gold medal inside of a home in Oceanside. Three men were taken into custody and the gold medal was returned to its owner.
“This wasn’t just a crime against me. It wasn’t stolen just from me, I earned that medal as an American for the USA and to have it stolen, no matter where it was going to go or who it was going to go to, this is a theft against me and our country,” Gale Geisler told NBC San Diego at the time.
She has since vowed to keep her medal in a very special, secure place as a way to keep it protected.
“My medal is in a safe location now. I made a promise to Detective Baxter that after he recovered my medal I would lock it up,” she told McKeel.