Steve Holcomb, Nick Cunningham battle difficult track in Altenberg, Germany
ALTENBERG, Germany - Steve Holcomb (Park City, Utah) teamed with Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.) and David Cremin (Annandale, Va.) for only the second time to lead USA Bobsled with a ninth place finish in today’s four-person bobsled World Cup in Altenberg.
Team Holcomb struggles in Altenberg at start in Night Train2 and finishes 9th
“I’m happy with the way I drove today, so I can walk away from the weekend feeling good about that,” Holcomb said. “The pushing wasn’t where I was hoping it would be, but this was only the second week these guys have pushed together. Give them time. It will come. As a new crew we’re making little mistakes, and that’s part of the learning process. These guys are pushing their hearts out.”
Olsen helped push Holcomb to the Olympic gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games and has years of experience as a member of the Night Train crew, but Clark and Cremin were nominated for a coveted seat in Holcomb’s sled just before the holiday break in Calgary, Canada. While athletes may still be swapped between sleds this season as teams learn the best push combinations, Holcomb has confidence in his crew’s ability.
USA-1 pushed a first run start time of 5.34 seconds for a run of 54.66 in the first run. The team bettered their start by 0.08 seconds in the final run, and Holcomb piloted the sled to the finish in 54.81 for a total time of 1:49.47 to finish ninth.
“We fixed a few small things in the second run and dropped some time,” Holcomb said. “That’ll continue to happen as we work together.”
Germans Nico Walther, Andreas Bredau, Marko Huebenbecker and Christian Poser raced to the finish in 1:48.11 to claim gold in front of a hometown crowd. Latvian Oskars Melbardis piloted his crew of Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga to a silver medal performance with a combined time of 1:48.15. Switzerland’s Rico Peter claimed his first-career World Cup medal today, bronze, alongside Janne Bror van der Zijde, Thomas Amrhein and Simon Friedli with a two-run total of 1:48.78.
Altenberg proved its reputation today, stumping even German hero Maximilian Arndt. Arndt was threading together a speedy first run before he was tripped up and the sled flipped. Holcomb said it’s one of the trickiest and most demanding tracks on tour.
“This is a very challenging track and I like that,” Holcomb said. “I’ve always done better on tracks that require some serious driving, and while I’ve never crushed it here with top results, I like it when I’m forced to work hard.”
Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) wrapped up his weekend in 12th alongside his four-person crew of Aaron Victorian (Laie, Hawaii), Alex Harrison (Edmonds, Wash.) and Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.). The 20-year-old made an impression with his stoic performances this weekend on the daunting Altenberg course.
After leading the U.S. with a seventh place finish in yesterday’s two-man bobsled race, he raced to the finish in 54.81 and 55.17 seconds today for a total time of 1:49.98 to finish 12th. Bascue’s crew was a new combination this week, and Victorian, Harrison and Valdes helped push Bascue’s Classroom Champions wrapped sled to competitive starts of 5.29 and 5.22 seconds.
Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) capped his first Altenberg experience with a 17th place finish. Cunningham teamed with Casey Wickline (Greenville, S.C.), James Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) in the first heat for a push time of 5.22 seconds.
Wickline was injured during the run and subbed by Dustin Greenwood (Palmyra, Va.) in the second heat. The crew clocked a push of 5.27 seconds in the final run.
Cunningham had some trouble navigating the course and those mistakes compounded down the track. Team Cunningham crossed the finish in 55.09 and 55.27 seconds for a total time of 1:50.36.
(Editor’s note: Holcomb and Cunningham are driving Bo-Dyn built Night Train bobsleds. Holcomb won the 2010 four man Olympic gold medal in the original Night Train. Four years later he drove the Night Train 2 to the bronze medal in Sochi. Currently Holcomb continues to pilot the NT2, while Cunningham has the original NT.)
1. Walther, Bredau, Huebenbecker and Poser (GER) 1 minute, 48.11 seconds (53.96 and 54.15 seconds); 2. Melbardis, Dreiskens, Vilkaste and Strenga (LAT) 1:48.15 (54.10, 54.05); 3. Peter, van der Zijde, Amrhein and Friedli (SUI) 1:48.78 (54.32, 54.46);…9. Holcomb, Olsen, Clark and Cremin (USA) 1:49.47 (54.66, 54.81);…12. Bascue, Victorian, Harrison and Valdes (USA) 1:49.98 (54.81, 55.17);…17. Cunningham, Wickline/Greenwood, Reed and Michener (USA) 1:50.17 (55.05, 55.12)
Written by Amanda Bird
Steve Holcomb photo by Arvid Mueller