LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 2012)- The U.S. men’s team continued their medal streak by finishing 2-3 in today’s four-man bobsled event at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Reigning World Champions Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah), Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.), Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) teamed together in the BMW Night Train to earn silver. National Guardsman Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) shocked the field by posting the fastest run of the second heat to claim bronze in the WIDIA sled with teammates Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.), Andreas Drbal (Belmont, Calif.) and Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah).
“We are hitting all of our goals for this time in the Olympic quad, and we’re really excited about the momentum,” said U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO Darrin Steele. “All of our teams are posting outstanding start times, and we’re seeing the emergence of some young pilots that are progressing better than we expected. The fact that Nick and Cory Butner both medaled this weekend shows the depth we have in this program leading up to Sochi.”
Team USA earned six medals in the World Cup season opener, including gold and silver medal performances by Holcomb and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) in yesterday’s two-man event. Not only did USA-1 and USA-2 again claim two of the three available medals today, but they also proved Team USA is the nation to beat off the starting block by tying for the fastest push time in the first heat.
“The athleticism of our team right now is impressive,” Cunningham said. “We have such a deep field of talented athletes, and we plan on pushing the envelope at every track off the starting block.”
Holcomb, Langton, Olsen and Tomasevicz powered the BMW Night Train off the start in 5.02 seconds, but fell 0.15 seconds short to Russian powerhouse Alexander Zubkov in the first run. The crew tied the Russians off the start in the second heat and raced to the finish in hopes of moving up to nab gold, but their combined time of 1:50.34 was still 0.19 short of first place.
“I made some mistakes in the second run, but that’s bobsled,” Holcomb said. “This isn’t pee wee bobsled; we’re out here fighting against the best in the world. These guys are at the top of their game and they’re not here to lose. So it’s a tough fight.”
Zubkov teamed with Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov and Maxim Mokrousov for a total time of 1:50.15 to start the season with the four-man bobsled lead.
“Zubkov has been sliding longer than I have and the guy knows how to drive,” Holcomb said. “I made mistakes and he got the win today, but that’s the way racing is.”
Despite only having a handful of runs together, Cunningham and his crew of Clark, Drbal and Fogt tied USA-1 off the block. Cunningham navigated the team into fourth position after the first heat.
USA-2 was in medal position in yesterday’s two-man event, but a driver error bumped the crew into fifth. Determined to keep the medals within grasp today, the crew blasted the WIDIA sled off the block in 5.02 seconds to tie Holcomb and Zubkov at the start. Cunningham guided his crew to the finish with the fastest time of the final heat to climb into bronze medal position.
“You’ve got to realize the level that we’re at and yesterday I wasn’t upset about fifth place, I was upset that I fell back,” Cunningham said. “I hate doing that to my guys. When they sell out and give everything and I don’t come through for them, that’s the hardest part. Just to be in with these big time names of the sport gives us something to celebrate.” Cunningham, an America’s Cup champion, is still a rookie to the World Cup circuit. Today was only his third World Cup start of his career, and his first medal on the elite circuit. ”We’re really excited to see this go forward, to keep this drive in us and keep the fire lit,” Cunningham said.
Butner, also a rookie on the World Cup tour, struggled in today’s four-man event. Butner teamed with Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Laszlo Vandracsek (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas) in the Sliding2Sochi sled for 20th place with a two-run total of 1:52.01.
“I’ve had better days,” Butner said. “The drives aren’t that bad, we’re just slow. We’re going to do some testing next week in Park City and try to figure out if it’s our riding position or our runner set, but we have an issue right now that we have to figure out.”
The next stop on the World Cup circuit will be in Park City, Utah, with races from Nov. 16-17 on the 2002 Olympic track.
“I finally get to go home,” Holcomb said. “I haven’t been home in awhile, so I’m excited.”
1. Zubkov, Negodaylo, Trunenkov and Mokrousov (RUS) 1:50.15 (54.80, 55.35); 2. Holcomb, Olsen, Langton and Tomasevicz (USA) 1:50.34 (54.95, 55.39); 3. Cunningham, Clark, Drbal and Fogt (USA) 1:50.47 (55.13, 55.34);…20. Butner, Berkeley, Vandracsek and Quinn (USA) 1:52.01 (55.95, 56.06);