ALTENBERG, Germany (Jan. 15, 2017)- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and his push crew of Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), Jimmy Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) once again led Team USA in the four-man bobsled World Cup, this time with a seventh place finish in Winterberg.
"We wanted to go out and redeem ourselves after yesterday's race," Holcomb said. "The wind was blowing so hard yesterday at the start, and you can't just wait around for it to stop. It is what it is, but we were really looking forward to coming back today to give our best effort."
Holcomb, Valdes, Reed and Michener pushed the BMW sled off the start in 5.20 seconds for a first run time of 54.93, placing the team within top-six contention. The crew bettered their push to 5.18 in run two, and Holcomb piloted the crew to the finish with a faster heat time of 54.82 seconds to move up one spot. Team Holcomb finished seventh with a combined time of 1:49.75 for Holcomb's fourth top-10 four-man finish this season.
"My quad injury from last year is getting better and I'm finally gaining more confidence with each push," Holcomb said. "It didn't bother me while pushing this summer, but it's different pushing on ice. We've been experimenting with some things and it's going pretty well, I feel like I'm getting faster and faster. It's nice to be able to push pain free again, and to have confidence at the start that I'm not going to blow something out."
Germans Johannes Lochner, Sebastian Mrowka, Joshua Bluhm and Christian Rasp claimed gold in 1:48.95 after posting the fastest times of both heats. Their teammates Nico Walther, Kevin Kuske, Kevin Korona and Eric Franke were second in 1:49.40, while Austrians Benjamin Maier, Stefan Laussegger, Markus Sammer and Danut Ion Moldovan were close behind in third with a two-run total of 1:49.42.
Team USA's Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) teamed with Frank Del Duca(Bethel, Maine), Adrian Adams (Reidsville, N.C.) and Christopher Kinney(Stockbridge, Ga.) in the Night Train 2 for 13th position after posting a two-run total of 1:50.41. The crew clocked nearly identical starts of 5.22 and 5.21 for runs of 55.10 and 55.31 seconds, respectively.
"We felt pretty good going into the day," Bascue said. "The track is very push heavy. We had good pushes, and it's hard to get more speed after that. I made a few mistakes up top, and that was our downfall. I think today is something to build off of this season."
Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), a gold medalist as a push athlete on Holcomb's 2010 Olympic four-man team, partnered with Austin Landis (Nashville, Tenn.), Evan Weinstock (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Lou Moreira (Somerville, Mass.) for 18th place with a combined time of 1:50.64 in the Night Train sled. Less hindered by the weather in both heats today, the crew posted starts of 5.13 and 5.18, third and 13th best of the heats, for consistent runs of 55.33 and 55.31 seconds, respectively. Olsen, Landis, Weinstock and Moreira have been one of the most competitive teams off the start block this season, and Olsen is racing in only his first World Cup season as a pilot on the circuit.
Today's four-person race concludes the Winterberg World Cup. The tour will make its fifth stop in St. Moritz, Switzerland next week.
"St. Moritz is my favorite track, it's super fast and quiet," Holcomb said. "We haven't seen the sun in two weeks, and it's almost always sunny in St. Moritz, so we're really looking forward to heading to Switzerland."
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1. Lochner, Mrowka, Bluhm and Rasp (GER) 1:48.95 (54.50, 54.45);
2. Walther, Kuske, Korona and Franke (GER) 1:49.40 (54.63, 54.77);
3. Maier, Laussegger, Sammer and Moldovan (AUT) 1:49.42 (54.72, 54.70);
7. Holcomb, Valdes, Reed and Michener (USA) 1:49.75 (54.93, 54.82);
13. Bascue, Del Duca, Adams and Kinney (USA) 1:50.41 (55.10, 55.31);
18. Olsen, Landis, Weinstock and Moreira (USA) 1:50.64 (55.33, 55.31);
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