Brett West has my vote for Father of the Year.

While watching the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics with his then 6 year old son (now TeamUSA member Tucker West), Brett noticed an interest in the Luge events. Several months of hard work along with some trial and error later, and the homemade track you see here materialized in the West family backyard. A frickin' luge track!! I'm looking at you, Dad! :::frowning, fists on hips, tapping foot:::

Not an true luge track (no actual luge, for one thing), certainly nothing that adheres to official specifications, but a motivational spark that helped light a fire of determination in one very special young boy from Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The West family has suffered some backlash lately for their decision to support Tucker wholeheartedly - since it means only seeing their Olympic hopeful (now an official team member) for a few weeks out of the year. The rest of the time, he is at a boarding school in Lake Placid, the site of the track where he trains 5-8 hours a day. But the thing is, it's not like he was "sent off" to boarding school by his mean ol' family - it was his choice. Tucker has an obsession. It's the same for all the greats, whether it's a sport, a field of study, a business venture, or anything really. Success requires dedication, and T.W. has it in spades. In reality, there's a good chance he may not even medal in these Olympics - he is, after all, the youngest US male ever to qualify for an Olympic luge team - but he DID qualify, and he IS an Olympian. As the motto goes, "Once an Olympian, always an Olympian. Never former, never past." What he will gain, no matter the outcome, is a great deal of Olympic and life experience, as well as the enduring title of "Olympian." Not many people have that kind of feather-in-the-cap to put on their résumé.

Tucker himself never thought he would be a part of the Sochi games, as he said in an interview when asked about making the team: "It is a good feeling. Back in middle school people would ask me when I was going to make the Olympics. I would say, 'I'll shoot for 2018'. It is a big surprise." It's not such a surprise to me after learning of his journey. It's a classic story: hard work and dedication pay dividends. Good luck on the track, in Sochi, and in life, tucker West. We'll be looking for you in Pyeongchang, four years from now, where you'll be able to proudly say "I've done this before."

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