Americans end 62-year drought with win in four-man bobsledding
Sunday, February 28, 2010
WHISTLER, B.C. -- With one more perfect run down sliding's most difficult track, Steven Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding on Saturday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.
It was the first gold medal for the United States in sliding's signature race since Francis Tyler won one for the Americans at the St. Moritz Games in 1948.
Holcomb's four-run time was 3 minutes 24.46 seconds, with Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz pushing for him again -- just as they did in winning the world championship a year ago.
"This is bigger," U.S. Coach Brian Shimer said.
There might not be any comparison whatsoever.
German Andre Lange, who failed to win a gold medal for the first time in five Olympic events, had a nearly perfect final run to win the silver in what he says will be his final race. Lange finished 0.38 of a second behind Holcomb and his team.
Lyndon Rush drove Canada-1 to the bronze.
Holcomb and his sledmates crossed the finish line one more time and threw their arms in the air before wrapping each other in American flags. Holcomb hoisted his helmet high as family members and friends craned for photographs, and a party that the U.S. program had been waiting 62 years for was finally getting started.
"It's huge," said USA-3 driver Mike Kohn, who finished 13th. "This is a great moment. It's hopefully going to change the program and bring some publicity and some funding to this sport, just like it did in '02 when we won silver and bronze." Kohn was a push athlete for Brian Shimer's sled at those 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, when Todd Hays drove to silver and Shimer got the Americans a bronze.
The United States had never been closer to being kings of the bobsled mountain -- until now.
A slew of U.S. teammates rushed to Holcomb's sled when it was over, and one of the first men to offer congratulations was Geoff Bodine, the 1986 Daytona 500 champion who was the driving force behind the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project -- which funded and built the sleds Americans raced in at the Vancouver Games.
"It's a great thing for the [United States]," Canada-2 driver Pierre Lueders said. "They've been competitive in bobsled for so long, but have been shut out quite a few times. He definitely is a talent, and I can't wait to see how he's going to do four years from now." Holcomb was walking around trackside about an hour before the final heat, shaking his finger, mouthing the words "One more." With a lead of 0.45 of a second over Rush, all Holcomb needed to do was get his sled down the mountain without a huge mishap, knowing his lead was such that no one could catch him.