Sochi recap: Men’s four-man bobsled, runs 1 and 2

USA-1 pilot Steven Holcomb came into the day hoping to become the first U.S. driver to win consecutive gold medals in 82 years. But a calf injury sustained during competition in the two-man, in which he won the bronze, left a question mark as to his ability to hang with the big boys.

After a 4.75 record start time in their first run, it was evident the stellar push crew of Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz, and Christopher Fogt, would be more than enough to give Holcomb an opportunity to drive to the top of the podium.

But the team has work to do after finishing the day in fourth after impressive runs from Russia-1, Germany-1, and Latvia-1.

Date: 22-Feb

Sport: Bobsled

Event: Men’s four-man, runs 1 and 2

How the U.S. Fared: In the first run, Holcomb managed a sub-55 second time (54.89), but couldn’t match it in the second run, finishing in 55.57. USA-1 sits in fourth place with a total time of 1:50.36, just .01 out of bronze medal position and .17 behind Russa-1 in the lead.

In USA-2, pilot Nick Cunningham, ranked 13th in world cup competition, is running about as expected with the seld in 11th after the second run.  He had a strong second run to move up three places from 14th after the first. Run. On board his sled are Justin Olsen, Dallas Robinson and of course, Johnny Quinn—now famous for busting out of his Sochi room after a locked door trapped him inside. Cunningham’s sled is the first “Night Train,” the sled Holcomb drove to glory in Vancouver. (Holcomb now drives the not-so-creatively-named “Night Train 2.”

What happened:  Different day, same verse. Veteran Alexander Zubkov piloted Russia-1 to lead the competition. But this time only by four hundreths of a second. Zubkov’s mastery of this tricky course certainly reveals the fact he’s had hundreds more trips down the track than the non-Russian drivers. Regardless, his performance has been tremendous, and he’s poised to walk home with both bobsled gold medals.

Latvia-1 pilot Oskars Melbardis’ exceptional driving matched the power of his push team’s starts to nab second place after two runs, just on the heels of Zubkov. Melbardis won the World Cup event in Sochi a year ago and won two of the final World Cup events this season. He also has been among the fastest during training this week. With times of 55.10 and 55.13, it was Melbardis’ second run that turned heads, moving up three positions, and conquering a track that was slowing with every run after a Canada-3 crash in the second part of track.

After sitting in second place after run 1, Germany-1 with top ranked four-man pilot Maximilian Arndt at the helm was passed by Melbardis to finish the day in third. Arndt started the day with a  sub-55 time, but lost a little on the second run, after scraping and twisting his sled a bit coming out of turn 16 into 17. He’ll start tomorrow just one one hundredth ahead of Holcomb in USA-2.

Just behind Holcomb is Germany-3, piloted by Thomas Florschuetz, a former luge athlete. Florsscheutz, 36, won a bronze in the two-man bobsled in Vancouver in 2010.

A spectacular crash by Justin Kripps in Canada-3 halted the race for a short time and also appeared to put the leaders that were still to come at a bit of a disadvantage, racing on a somewhat damaged track. (Though no repairs were apparently needed.) Kripps’ sled picked up going into 14 and flipped running upside down the track. All four men (Kripps, Jesse Lumseden, Cody Sorensen, Ben Coakwell) walked away seemingly uninjured.

Great Britain-1 benefited from starting just prior to run 2 as ice conditions had already started deteriorating, moving up from 10th to seventh. After a 4.79 start in run 1, and 4.81 in run 2, pilot John Jackson stayed clean in the first half, had a small knock on turn 11, but no slide to finish 55.27. Joel Fearon, one of fastest sprinters in Great Britain, is the brakeman.

Quote: “We’re only 0.17 out,” Holcomb said. “Everybody’s kind of looking at us like they kicked our dog or something.” – Source

Full Results


About Cynthia Hobgood

Washington, DC-based digital communications professional, independent writer, and photographer. Recovering full-time sports journalist.// An equal opportunity sports fanatic, I have a soft spot in my heart for Winter games after covering Salt Lake City 2002. I had no idea what I was getting myself into being a credentialed journalist at the Olympics. But it was surely a highlight of my career, involving a lot of writing, countless events, practically no sleep, and ending with pneumonia two weeks later. Soon after I transitioned to part-time sports coverage while in grad school and have focused a bit more on digital communications in recent years, while still dabbling in some independent sports coverage, including women's soccer. //Find me on Twitter: @hobwriter
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