KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – If Steve Holcomb is to defend his Olympic title at these Sochi Games, he’ll have to figure out a way to make up 0.17 seconds in the final two heats of the four-man bobsled, following a disappointing second heat Saturday.
At the event’s midpoint, Holcomb’s USA-1 sled sits in fourth place, just 0.01 seconds out of medal position. The final two heats are scheduled for Sunday at Sanki Sliding Center.
After posting a time of 54.89 seconds on their first run, Holcomb’s crew entered the second heat already facing a 0.07-second deficit. The sled posted a time of 55.47 in the second heat, just the ninth-best time of the heat. After Russia-1 finished its second run in 55.37 seconds, the Americans finished the day in fourth place with a total time of 1:50.36, trailing second-place Latvia by 0.13 seconds and third-place Germany by just one-hundredth of a second. The Russian sled is piloted by Alexander Zubkov, who won gold Monday in the two-man event.
“The second one I was a little late getting to the bar, which is my fault,” Holcomb said. “But it’s still a great start. Like I’ve said all week, I’ve got the best push crew in the world. These guys are on top of their game. I made more mistakes driving than I wanted to. But we can fix that for tomorrow.”
Holcomb, who steered his sled to bronze in the two-man, is trying to become the first American in 82 years to defend his Olympic bobsled title.
There was one scary moment in Saturday’s action when the Canada-3 sled hit a wall hard about three-quarters of the way down the track and flipped, skidding across the finish upside-down. All four Canadian athletes were able to walk away on their own accord. The sled, piloted by Justin Kripps, had been in eighth place through the first heat and likely represented Canada’s best chance for a medal in the event.
The only other American sled in the field, piloted by Nick Cunningham, improved on its second run, posting a time of 55.48, putting USA-2 in 11th place with a total time of 1:51.09, 0.90 seconds behind the leader.