December 14, 2013

Holcomb wins again, US sweeps 2-man bobsled

The U.S. team had not swept all three medal spots in a World Cup race in nearly 13 years.

By Tim Reynolds
The Associated Press

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The U.S. bobsled team went nearly 13 years without sweeping all three medal spots in a World Cup race.

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United States’ pilot Nick Cunningham and brakeman Johnny Quinn compete in the two-man bobsled World Cup event Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. The pair finished second.

The Associated Press

It’s now happened twice in eight days.

With even the head of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation calling it “kind of surreal,” the Americans extended their ridiculous start to this Olympic season on Saturday, when Steven Holcomb added to his undefeated start by driving to yet another win and leading the first U.S. sweep of a World Cup 2-man race.

Holcomb and Chris Fogt finished two runs in 1 minute, 50.19 seconds at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Nick Cunningham and Johnny Quinn were second in 1:50.74, and Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley were third in 1:50.85 – capping off a sweep that came on the heels of the U.S. women winning a gold and tying for silver at a World Cup race in Park City, Utah last weekend.

“Sometimes, things just come together when they need to,” USBSF CEO Darrin Steele said. “It’s kind of surreal.”

Holcomb has now won all six World Cup men’s bobsled races this season, four of them coming in 2-man. He extended his lead in the World Cup 2-man standings to 136 points over Cunningham.

But Holcomb was more impressed with the 1-2-3 U.S. finish than extending his own personal start.

“That’s huge,” Holcomb said. “These guys have been performing well all year. For them to finally put it together on the last day of 2-man, last day of the North American tour, I think that’s really going to help bring that motivation and confidence into Europe. It’s definitely going to be harder over there. We had to take advantage of our North American experience and capitalize on it here because trust me, it’s going to get a lot more difficult.”

True, but these days, the Americans are making it look easy.

Holcomb, Cunningham and Butner were in the top three spots after the first heat, and on a day where sliders were greeted with a race-time air temperature of minus-10, the U.S. proved impossible to catch. No German sled was better than fourth, no Russian sled better than fifth, no Canadian sled better than sixth.

“To sweep the podium, it’s obviously something you always want to achieve,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer said. “Not every nation even gets three sleds. To put all three of them on the podium is pretty special. I’ve seen it a lot of times in my career, but with the Swiss flag flying or with the German flag flying.”

This time, it was the red, white and blue that was flying.

“It’s taken four years to get my first World Cup medal,” Quinn said. “Man, this is sweet. ... Things are headed in the right direction.”

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