LAKE PLACID - The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation inducted Bob Cuneo, John F. Morgan and Frederick "Fred" Fortune, Jr. into its fourth class of Hall of Fame members on Saturday. The USBSF Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sports of bobsled and skeleton. Their dedication and commitment as athletes and supporters of the USBSF will be forever honored through their induction into the Hall of Fame.
Cuneo graduated from Northeastern University in 1970 with a degree in engineering. He went on to form Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., where he specialized in automotive chassis design.
He was introduced to the sport of bobsled in 1992, when he teamed with famed NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine to form the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc. The plan was to make made-in-America sleds for American bobsledders. The U.S. team had been competing in foreign-made equipment, and had not won an Olympic medal since 1956 or a World Championship medal since 1967.
The chassis builder helped the U.S. emerge as a contender in international competition by applying racecar engineering to the sliding track with computer-aided design, aerodynamic improvements and streamlined maintenance of the sleds. By 1996, the U.S. was winning not only medals, but gold medals on the World Cup tour in their made-in-America bobsleds with a traditional whistle sound. The U.S. team broke the Olympic medal drought in Bo-Dyn sleds by winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2000 Cuneo was also named Head of Material Commission for the FIBT, which is the world governing body of bobsled. Cuneo is credited with expediting inspection of sleds, which used to take 24 hours, by introducing a NASCAR procedure to inspect sleds within one hour after the race. That process is now standard in FIBT racing today.
Eighteen years after the project's inception, the four-man bobsled named the Night Train was created. Pilot Steven Holcomb opted to take the first generation sled to Europe for the World Cup tour, despite just being a prototype. Without time to paint the sled, it was unveiled with just a flat black primer. Not wanting it to look unfinished, Cuneo sketched a crude graphic on a table napkin of a bobsled with wheels hauling down a track and sparks spewing behind. The sketch was refined and applied to the sled, and the racing legend of the Night Train was born.
The U.S. men had not won gold in the four-man bobsled event since 1948 until Steven Holcomb and his Night Train crew of Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz were victorious at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. It was Cuneo's crowning glory as the Night Train, a sled that took years to perfect, clocked the fastest time to earn Olympic gold. Cuneo has built a Night Train 2 sleds for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Morgan was born into a family of bobsled racers in Saranac Lake and competed on the national team from 1978-1979 before becoming a broadcaster in 1981. Morgan competed with his three brothers in the 1980 U.S. Olympic trials, but did not make the team. His last competitive bobsled trip was in January 1980 with William Napier, who was inducted into the USBSF Hall of Fame in 2010. Ten days later, ABC Sports hired Morgan as a runner at the 1980 Olympics, and the next year he did his first stint as a commentator for ABC's Wide World of Sports. Morgan's first Olympic assignment was in 1984 at Sarajevo, and he has been hired as a color commentator for bobsled and skeleton races ever since.
Morgan made a cameo appearance in the 1993 Disney film, Cool Runnings, as a sports commentator alongside NBC Sports analyst Al Trautwig. Morgan is the only person in the movie who played himself. The film is based on a true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
Morgan founded JFM Sports, Inc. in 1982, and created a TV series in 1989 called Rugby World that aired on Prime Network and ESPN2. Morgan also created Winter Speed, a 10-week TV series that started in 1990 and featured all three sliding sports of bobsled, skeleton and luge. The international bobsled federation hired JFM in 1995 to coordinate its coverage of World Cup bobsled and skeleton events, which air on NBC/Universal Sports in the U.S. and most major markets around the world.
Morgan also serves as Executive Director of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., a non-profit organization that designs and manufactures made-in-USA bobsleds.
Fortune competed in the sport of bobsled from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s and was a member of two Winter Olympic teams. Fortune piloted his USA-2 two-man sled to an Olympic bronze medal finish with Schuyler Carron in the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and claimed three bronze World Championship medals throughout his career in 1949, 1950 and 1965.
Fortune also served on the U.S. Olympic Committee on the previous bids prior to the 1976 Innsbruck Games and coached the 1976 U.S. Olympic bobsled team. He was chairman of the technical committee at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
Fortune worked as a contractor and contributed his expertise in the creation of two towns- North Pole, New York and North Pole, Colorado on Pikes Peak. Both North Poles are villages designed to mimic the magical land of Santa Claus' workshop.
Fortune was instrumental in the creation of the Pee-Wee Bobsled Program in Lake Placid, and he worked countless hours in the carpenter shop at New York's Santa's Workshop to build pee-wee bobsleds for the participating kids. He also helped start the Junior Chamber of Commerce and created the now annual Fourth of July Ski Jump on ice event.
Fortune was also an accomplished horseman and skier and served in the 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops during World War II, where he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone.