LA PLAGNE, France - Steve Holcomb and his push crew of Justin Olsen, Carlo Valdes and Sam Michener finished eighth as the top U.S. sled in the La Plagne four-person bobsled World Cup race today.
“Everyone wants to win the race and these guys are no exception, but these results have lit the fire within for this young team,” said Brian Shimer, U.S. bobsled head coach. “There isn’t anyone on this team that isn’t upset with not doing better, but it’s motivating us and the team environment is really powerful. These guys are having fun and know this is part of the process of rebuilding towards 2018.”
Olsen, Valdes and Michener pushed Holcomb to a first run start time of 6.01 seconds, and Holcomb piloted the Bo-Dyn Night Train 2 to the finish in 58.59 seconds for seventh position. The crew improved their start by two-hundredths of a second in the final heat to keep the team in contention for a top-six finish. Holcomb threaded together a decent run of 59.28 seconds for a combined downtime of 1:57.87, but Latvian Oskars Kibermanis bumped the Americans back by 0.02 seconds into eighth with a flawless second run.
“We go into every race hoping we’ll be in the mix at the start, but we’re realistic and know it’s not going to happen overnight,” Shimer said. “The gap at the start is too much to overcome, but Holcomb still gets the team into the top 10. It’s really a tribute to his experience and ability.”
Latvian Oskars Melbardis teamed with Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga to win the race and the European Championship with a two-run total of 1:56.61. The crew tied the start record in both heats with a push time of 5.73 seconds. Germany’s Alexander Kasjanov and his push team of Ilvir Huzin, Aleksei Pushkarev and Aleksey Zaytsev claimed silver with a combined time of 1:56.89, while Germans Francesco Friedrich, Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Thorsten Margis slid a time of 1:57.13 for bronze.
Codie Bascue teamed with Aaron Victorian, Alex Harrison, and David Cremin in the Classroom Champions sled for 15th position with a combined downtime of 1:58.80. The crew pushed starts of 5.96 and 6.01 seconds for runs of 59.11 and 59.69 seconds, respectively. This week was the first time Bascue has driven the French course in his young career.
Nick Cunningham, Adam Clark, James Reed and Adrian Adams finished 19th in the original Night Train sled built by Bo-Dyn. Their total time was 1:59.10. The crew had a mishap at the start in the first run when the right push bar didn’t retract after the team loaded into the sled, and the push bar scraped the wall as the sled descended the course.
Despite the mishap, the team clocked respectable starts of 5.93 and 5.95 for runs of 59.49 and 59.61 seconds.
1. Melbardis, Dreiskens, Vilkaste and Strenga (LAT) 1:56.61 (57.66, 58.95); 2. Kasjanov, Huzin, Pushkarev and Zaytsev (RUS) 1:56.89 (57.98, 58.91); 3. Friedrich, Bauer, Grothkopp and Margis (GER) 1:57.13 (58.33, 58.80);…8. Holcomb, Olsen, Valdes and Michener (USA) 1:57.87 (58.59, 59.28);…15. Bascue, Victorian, Harrison and Cremin (USA) 1:58.80 (59.11, 59.69);…19. Cunningham, Clark, Reed and Adams (USA) 1:59.10 (59.49, 59.61);