PARK CITY, Utah (Jan. 15, 2016)- Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and his crew of Casey Wickline (Greenville, S.C.), James Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) led Team USA through blustery and snowy conditions in Park City's four-person bobsled World Cup with a 12th place finish today.
Cunningham, Wickline, Michener and Reed combined forces for a first run push time of 4.89 seconds and Cunningham piloted the Classroom Champions wrapped sled to the finish with the eighth fastest time of the heat, 48.13 seconds. Mother Nature was unpredictable in the final heat, and the crew fell back into 12th after a start of 5.04 and finish of 48.86.
"You want to blame Mother Nature for everything, especially when you have a bad run," Cunningham said. "In a sport like this, everything matters. It all kind of plays a part. You do the best you can. I wish I could've gotten my guys on the podium, but I'm happy there's tomorrow. We have to regroup and forget about today. If we keep dwelling on this, then we don't have a chance tomorrow. I can't control the weather, but I can control my driving. I didn't have two perfect runs. I made some mistakes and it cost me. My guys pushed me to great times, so we will take a personal victory with that."
Alexander Kasjanov , Ilvir Huzin, Aleksei Pushkarev and Aleksey Zaytsev from Russia were victorious in 1:36.20. Maximiliam Arndt and his team of Alexander Roediger, Ben Heber and Kevin Korona claimed silver for Germany in 1:36.24. Swizterland's team of Rico Peer, Fabio Badraun, Thomas Amrhein and Simon Friedli were third with a two-run total of 1:36.42.
Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) teamed with Austin Landis (Nashville, Tenn.), Nathan Gilsleider (Claremore, Okla.) and Nic Taylor (Hayward, Calif.) to finish 13th with a combined time of 1:37.12. The crew posted starts of 4.92 and 5.08 for runs of 48.19 and 48.93 seconds, respectively.
"You never know with the elements what's going to happen with the track," Bascue said. "All you can do is just push well, drive the lines you know you can drive and hope for the best. It's exciting to have another race and have a chance as a team to redeem ourselves."
Three-time Olympic medalist Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) was in medal contention after the first heat, but the he and his push team of Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine) and Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas) were unlucky with the weather in the final run. The crew clocked a start of 4.93 in run one for a time of 48.10 seconds, placing them in fifth place and 0.10 seconds within reach of the medals. Just as the team powered the Night Train 2 off the start in the final run, strong wind gusts worked against the team. The crew was only able to muster a start time of 5.15 and fell back 11 spots into 16th with a run time of 49.10. Holcomb was visibly disappointed at the finish.
"You could see all of a sudden the conditions changed and that's when everyone started getting slower and slower," Holcomb said. "It's just frustrating. I didn't notice anything other than the track getting slower. I feel good, considering, just a little upset. We have to go back and do our sled work and get ready for tomorrow. Hopefully, we have better conditions and a more fair race."
The Park City World Cup continues tomorrow and Team USA will get another crack at racing four-person. The day will start with women's and men's skeleton before the event wraps up with a second four-person competition.
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1. Kasjanov, Huzin, Pushkarev and Zaytsev (RUS) 1:36.20 (47.90, 48.30);
2. Arndt, Roediger, Heber and Korona (GER) 1:36.24 (47.97, 48.27);
3. Peter, Badraun, Amrhein and Friedli (SUI) 1:36.42 (48.00, 48.42);
12. Cunningham, Wickline, Michener and Reed (USA) 1:36.99 (48.13, 48.86);
13. Bascue, Taylor, Gilsleider and Landis (USA) 1:37.12 (48.19, 48.93);
16. Holcomb, Valdes, DelDuca and McGuffie (USA) 1:37.20 (48.10, 49.10);