Holcomb back on track with Calgary sweep
CALGARY, Alberta – It had been three years since Steven Holcomb was on top of the podium in a four-man bobsled World Cup competition. Gold had eluded the Olympic champion since a November 2010 win in Whistler, Canada until Saturday.
Holcomb teamed with Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt to complete a sweep of the Calgary event by following up his two-man win Friday night with a four-man victory Saturday.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend,” Holcomb said. “It’s an Olympic year, and this is when it counts. Walking away from the season opener with two gold medals feels really good.”
USA-1 set the pace in the first heat with a start time of 5.04 seconds and a run of 54.08 seconds. The Night Train II team was just 0.08 seconds ahead of the field going into the final run.
“We knew we didn’t meet our potential in the first run and that we had to blow it out in the second run if we were going to keep our spot,” Tomasevicz said.
Determined to maintain position, USA-1 powered off the start block in 5.01 seconds, fastest in the competition. Holcomb took advantage of the lead and posted a second run of 54.48 seconds for the victory.
“My team has been chomping at the bit to compete, and they did what they needed to do to keep us ahead,” Holcomb said. “The other teams are here to win, just like we are, and they aren’t going to go down easily. We need to be on our game, and I think we did that today.”
Holcomb and crew won by 0.09 seconds with a two-run total of 1:48.56. German driver Maximilian Arndt and Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov slid a combined time of 1:48.65 to tie for second place. Arndt teamed with Marko Huebenbecker, Alexander Roediger and Martin Putze for runs of 54.14 and 54.51 seconds. Zubkov clocked times of 54.16 and 54.49 with his crew of Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov and Maxim Mokrousov.
“It blows my mind that after two runs teams can be tied,” Holcomb said. “No one is slouching this year. You have to want and take every hundredth to win.”
The Latvian crew led by Oskars Melbardis, who is normally a contender for the medals, was disqualified after the first heat for being overweight.
Nick Cunningham, Dallas Robinson, Johnny Quinn and Abe Morlu were within striking distance of a top-six finish, but a late load in the final run held the team back from a podium finish. Cunningham navigated the Century 21 sled to 12th with a total time of 1:49.22 after clocking runs of 54.27 and 54.95 seconds.
Cory Butner slipped while loading into the sled in the first heat, but his powerful push crew of Chuck Berkeley, Andreas Drbal and Chris Langton mustered an impressive push time of 5.09 seconds. Butner corrected his mistake in the second run, and he piloted the CEVA sled to the finish in 54.53 and 54.82 seconds for a total time of 1:49.35 for 15th place.
U.S. women finish 2-3 in World Cup opener
CALGARY, Alberta – The U.S. women continued the bobsled team’s medal streak by finishing second and third in the World Cup season opener in Calgary Saturday.
Elana Meyers and Aja Evans earned silver, while teammates Jamie Greubel and Katie Eberling were third.
“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Meyers said. “I haven’t slid here since 2010, so to come out with a medal on this track feels great. I feel really good about our performance as a team.”
Meyers and Evans were first off in the competition, and they set the pace with a record-breaking start time of 5.55 seconds. The duo was seated comfortably in the lead with a run of 57.07 seconds before Canadians Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse descended the course.
The defending champion responded to the Americans by claiming the start record with a push time of 5.48 seconds, and led the field with a run of 56.88 seconds after the first heat.
“Kaillie and I train together, and it’s fun having someone to go back and forth with,” Meyers said. “We went into this year wanting to push each other, and I think we did that today. It was definitely a battle.”
U.S. teammates Greubel and Eberling were in the mix with the third fastest time of the first run, 57.28 seconds. Greubel earned her first World Cup medal last season in La Plagne, France with Emily Azevedo, and she’s still a rookie on the elite tour. She kept her composure between heats and was eager to maintain medal position.
“It was a little weird in the start house between runs, because I could hear that times were getting slower in the second heat,” Greubel said. “I was confident in my ability, and Katie and I make a great team. I told myself not to worry about what anyone else was doing and just focus on putting together another solid run.”
Greubel and Eberling were first of the top three competitors to take a second run. Several teams put pressure on the Americans with speedy runs, including veteran German pilot Cathleen Martini. Greubel and Eberling matched their first run start of 5.62 and secured a medal position by posting a combined time of 1:53.62 in the Putinka sled to finish 0.17 seconds ahead of Martini. Greubel, still taking it all in, said she is excited and looking forward to racing on a U.S. track next week.
“I’m going to take it one week at a time, one track at a time,” Greubel said. “I feel like I’m driving well, but I need to stay focused to maintain it.”
Meyers and Evans were next off, and the pair powered the BMW sled off the block to again set the start record with a push of 5.47 seconds. Meyers navigated the sled to the finish with a two-run total of 1:53.33 to score at least second place.
Humphries and Moyse burst down the ramp to reclaim the start record on their home track with a push time of 5.45 seconds. Humphries expertly piloted her sled to the finish with a combined time of 1:52.77 for a victory of 0.56 seconds over the Americans.
The Germans have commonly dominated the sport in past years, but the German teams finished 5-6-7 behind a North American sweep of the medals.
U.S. athletes Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones tied Esme Kamphuis and Sanna Dekker from the Netherlands for 15th place with a two-run total of 1:54.67. The American duo posted starts of 5.67 and 5.61 for runs of 57.91 and 56.76 seconds, respectively. Fenlator lost critical speed on the lower portion of the track while struggling to navigate the 360-degree kreisel corner in the first run, and she was unable to make up the deficit in the final heat.