CALGARY, Alberta – It wasn’t the start to the World Cup bobsled season that Steve Holcomb and “Cowboy” Nick Cunningham envisioned, but after just two races in the 2014-2015 season the podium remains clearly in sight.
Holcomb, an Olympic champion and bronze medalist in four man bobsledding and bronze medalist in two man competition, is still not 100 percent from the Achilles injury he suffered in Sochi last February. In addition, he and Cunningham are working with new push crews after the majority of their Olympic units stepped out of the sport after the 2014 Winter Games.
Holcomb, the Park City, Utah pilot who won his Olympic four man medals in Bo-Dyn built sleds, has finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the opening World Cup four man races in his AdvoCare-branded Night Train2 sled. Cunningham of Monterey, Calif., another Bo-Dyn four man driver, has been fifth and 12th in Lake Placid and Calgary, respectively, in Holcomb’s original Night Train sled that took gold in Vancouver.
In Sochi and throughout last year’s World Cup tour, Holcomb’s crew dominated the push, but currently not so much. Meanwhile, “Cowboy” Cunningham, admitting afterward that he needs to improve, stood fifth after one heat in Calgary. But a late entrance into turn eight in the final run nearly put his sled on its side.
“You need three things to win a race, and it's a good push, good drives and good equipment," Holcomb said in a USA Bobsled and Skeleton press release after the Calgary event. "My crew today only had a few days to push together, and they gave everything they had. I can't ask for more than that. Last year my crew had a combined 30 years of experience, and this year we don't come close to that. There are some big shoes to fill, and we have a lot of ground to make up. These guys are working hard to get there though. It will just take some time."
Four-man World Cup racing is gender neutral beginning this year. Double women’s Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor of Douglasville, Ga. and two-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist Kaillie Humphries broke new ground in Calgary as the first women to drive four man bobsleds.
After qualifying in national selection races, Meyers Taylor drove the third United States entry. With three male push athletes, she placed 16th in a Bo-Dyn chassis previously used by 2010 Olympian John Napier.
"Everyone was so excited to see us race today and it really helped me realize the significance of the moment," Meyers Taylor said, according to USABS. "There were some little girls at the track that were excited to watch women's bobsled today, and hopefully what Kaillie and I are doing inspires them. I hope someday a woman racing in four-man isn't news. I'm willing to do anything it takes to advance our sport, even if it means racing twice in a day."
A few hours earlier, Meyers Taylor captured the gold medal in the traditional women’s two man craft.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation will now enjoy its holiday break before resuming action Jan. 10-11 in Altenberg, Germany. There are six more World Cup events prior to the World Championships in Winterberg, Germany Feb. 23 – March 8.
Contact: Sandy Caligiore, 518-627-3597, firstname.lastname@example.org