LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Nov. 9, 2012)- The U.S. men stepped up to the challenge set by the women’s bobsledders this morning with gold and silver medal finishes in the two-man bobsled World Cup event at Mount Van Hoevenberg this afternoon. Defending World Champions Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) slid to victory again, while Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.) cracked into the medals with a second place finish. National Guardsman Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) teamed with rookie Andreas Drbal (Belmont, Calif.) to finish a fingernail’s distance from the top three in fifth.
“It always motivates us when the women do really well,” Butner said about the silver and bronze medal performances by the U.S. women’s bobsledders this morning. “They had great finishes and it put pressure on us to also perform on our home track here. It’s a really good day for all of us and I’m really happy.” Holcomb and Langton followed up their historic 2012 World Championship victory with another gold medal today to make winning in the two-man event a new tradition for the U.S. program. The crew powered the Under Armour sled off the block with the second and third best starts of the day, and Holcomb piloted his sled effortlessly to the finish to lead by 0.60 seconds with a combined time of 1:51.75.”We’ve been here for a month training and it’s pretty exciting to see it pay off, especially with [Cory] and Nick doing well today- that’s really cool,” Holcomb said. “Let’s see if we can carry the momentum into the next couple of races. Starting off in North America is definitely good for us because it starts things off on a good note on our home track and gets things moving.”
Butner earned his first career World Cup medal with veteran Berkeley in the Autism Speaks sled. The pair was in fifth position after the first heat, but Butner drove a flawless second run to move the team up three spots into second with a two-run total of 1:52.35.
“To lose a gold medal to a World Champion, especially on this track, I’m really happy,” Butner said. “I’m still in shock that we came in second.”
“It’s our home track, and we are showing that we are dominant at home,” Butner said. “We just now have to prove we are dominant as we go to other tracks. We have such a strong team and I think we proved how talented our team is, so we’re ready to show the world what we have.”
Butner and Berkeley edged out Germans Francesco Friedrich and Gino Gerhardi, who trailed the American team by 0.09 seconds for third.
Cunningham and Drbal were in third position after a first run of 56.06 seconds. The duo powered the National Guard sled off the block 0.04 seconds faster in the second heat, but Cunningham made a few crucial driving errors that cost the team two positions. Cunningham and Drbal crossed the finish line in 1:52.50 to finish a heartbreaking 0.06 seconds from the medals.
“We really wanted to sweep the podium, and we missed it,” Cunningham said. “It kind of feels like we let the team down because we were seated in such good position. Cory drove awesome, Holcomb drove awesome, and we wish we were up there with them. I feel really bad. It’s hard when it’s in your grasp, and one small driving error costs you the medal.”
Despite his disappointment, Cunningham was pleased to post his best career World Cup finish. The top six sleds are awarded medals, so all three U.S. teams were recognized tonight.
“It’s really exciting to show where our program is going,” Holcomb said. “These guys train hard all year, they’re looking better and better every day driving, and I think we’re going to have three sleds that are really competitive.”
1. Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton (USA) 1:51.75 (55.56, 56.19); 2. Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:52.35 (56.10, 56.25); 3. Francesco Friederich and Gino Gerhardi (GER) 1:52.44 (56.09, 56.35);…5. Nick Cunningham and Andreas Drbal (USA) 1:52.50 (56.06, 56.44);