Americans look to recapture their mojo in the French Alps
La Plagne, France - The bobsled track in La Plagne, France, took center stage 23 years ago, in February 1992, when it hosted the Olympic sliding events during the Winter Games in Albertville.
For the second time in the history of the track, which is located in Savoy, France, it will stage a mixed bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup when it hosts the sixth round of the Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup Tour Jan. 30 – Feb. 1.
American pilots Steve Holcomb and Nick Cunningham will continue their quest for the World Cup podium with new push crews as time ticks down to the World Championships in a month in Winterberg, Germany.
Holcomb’s push team will remain the same as last week’s combination in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Carlo Valdes will give Holcomb a push in the BMW two-man sled on Saturday. Justin Olsen, Valdes and Sam Michener will team together in Holcomb’s Bo-Dyn built Night Train 2 four-person sled on Sunday.
Holcomb is a winner of three Olympic medals, two of them in four-man, while Olsen has two Olympic medals to his credit, both with Holcomb on the D-rings.
Nick Cunningham will race with Casey Wickline in the Century 21 BMW-made sled, and he will have a new combination of Adam Clark, James Reed and Adrian Adams in the original Night Train craft.
Both sleds seek their World Cup four man medals of the season. The coaching staff continues working with different combinations of new push athletes that entered the sport after the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The last World Cup staged by the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation FIBT (Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing) in La Plagne, France’s first and only artificial ice track, took place in December 2012, when mixed athletes contested the events.
A year earlier, La Plagne hosted a mixed World Cup for the first time. Prior to that, the venue had been missing from the World Cup calendar for nine years, since the two-man and four-man bobsled races had been held there in December 2002. Back then, it seems that track operators were more interested in offering tourist rides than hosting the world’s best bobsled crews.
But it wasn’t always that way. There is a long history of passionate support for the sport of bobsled racing in La Plagne. Before the artificial ice track was built, members of the Mâcot-la-Plagne bobsled club staged competitions on the old mine access road above the town.
To date, La Plagne has not been afforded the honor of staging any further Olympic events. When nearby Annecy launched a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the plan was to stage the bobsled, skeleton and luge competitions at the track in the French Alps, but in the summer of 2011 the decision was made to award the Games to PyeongChang, South Korea.