LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 9, 2016)- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) both drove to top-10 finishes Saturday in a four-man World Cup bobsled competition on the home ice of Mount Van Hoevenberg, as the season reached its midway point.
"Today was kind of a bummer day," Holcomb said. "Coming from fifteenth (in the start order) there was no chance. We were just doing the best to get off closer and bridge the gap a little bit."
Holcomb and his team of Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), Frank Del Duca(Bethel, Maine) and Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas) finished eighth in Night Train 2, completing two runs in 1 minute, 50.69 seconds. Cunningham and his team of Casey Wickline (Greenville, S.C.), James Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) was ninth in the dedicated Classroom Champions sled with a time of 1:50.72, or 1.01 seconds off the winning time posted by the sled driven by Germany's Maximilian Arndt.
Holcomb and his crew had the seventh-fastest start time in both heats, with a 5.10-second clocking in the first heat and powering their way to 5.07 seconds in the second heat. Cunningham and his crew had nearly identical start times, opening with a 5.09 and following that with another 5.07.
Slightly warmer than usual temperatures, combined with starting toward the back of the 17-sled field, made conditions tough for the American sleds. The top four sleds down the hill in the first heat - before the ice started getting rougher - finished in the top four positions overall, a fact that wasn't surprising to Holcomb.
"That's the way it works sometimes," Holcomb said. "When that happens, there isn't much you can do."
Holcomb was coming off a win in Friday's two-man race, his first victory on the circuit since the 2013-14 season. He said came into Saturday with a new batch of confidence, which combined with his improving health - he's still dealing with the aftereffects of an Achilles injury that occurred during the 2014 Olympic Games, plus a quadriceps injury in the first race of this season - has him thinking he can still finish this season very strong.
"Just being able to come out here and pretty much show these new guys that we still have it, that we can still do it; that's something that we were missing the last year," Holcomb said.
Cunningham was consistent in his runs, with the decreases in his split times from the first to his second trip down the track only attributable to the added roughness to the ice as the race went along. Cunningham also sustained a grade-2 sprain of his ankle earlier in the week, which hindered his start.
"With all the adversity with my leg, my ankle, sitting in all week - everything changes on race day," Cunningham said. "We had a great start considering the circumstances and my guys stepped up."
The USA-3 sled driven by Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) and pushed by Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (Powhatan, Va.), David Cremin (Annondale, Va.) and Nathan Gilsleider (Claremore, Okla.) was 15th overall in 1:51.44.
"I had a shaky first run," Bascue said. "We were ahead of a couple of people. For the second run I thought maybe we could pick some people off but that didn't happen. We performed well. We did our best. I'm really proud of these guys. Two of the three guys are new to the team and they really came out."
History was made in the race, with Canada's Kaillie Humphries and sledmates Cynthia Appiah, Genevieve Thibault and Melissa Lotholz becoming the first all-female team to compete in a four-person World Cup bobsled race. Humphries - just as U.S. pilot Elana Meyers Taylor, one of her close friends - had driven against men in the past, but only with men also pushing her sled.
"To be the first one is cool but at the end of the day I'm not doing it to be the first one," Humphries said. "I'm doing it because it challenges myself to be a better pilot, to have something else to look forward to, something fun."
Competitions from Lake Placid are scheduled to air on Universal HD. Please check local listings to find the Universal HD channel in your area and for updated air times. The series resumes at Park City, Utah next weekend, with two four-man races scheduled there.
Visit www.usabs.com for updates and results from the various tours. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing & Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (518) 354-2250. Get updates on the team by following USA Bobsled & Skeleton on Facebook, USBSF on Twitter and USABS on Instagram.
1. Arndt, Korona, Putze and Heber (GER) 1:49.70 (54.49, 55.21);
2. Kasjanov, Pushkrev, Huzin and Zaytsev (RUS) 1:49.98 (54.68, 55.30);
3. Kripps, Kopacz, Plug and Coakwell (CAN) 1:50.07 (54.73, 55.34);
8. Holcomb, DelDuca, Valdes and McGuffie (USA) 1:50.69 (55.20, 55.49);
9. Cunningham, Wickline, Reed and Michener (USA) 1:50.72 (55.22, 55.50);
15. Bascue, Cremin, Gilsleider and Abdul-Saboor (USA) 1:51.44 (55.61, 55.83);