Photo: James Cook
IGLS, Austria (Feb. 5, 2017)- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) claimed his second four-man bobsled medal of the season today, bronze, with his push crew of Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), Jimmy Reed (Garmisch, Germany) and Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas) to conclude the Igls World Cup.
"These guys are working well together and coming together as a team, as one unit, both on and off the ice," Holcomb said. "It's paying off at the start and they are motivated to get into the medals each week. This is the push crew we've been looking for."
Holcomb, Valdes, Reed and McGuffie powered the BMW sled off the start block in 5.05 seconds, 10th best of the heat, for the second fastest of the first run, 50.05 seconds. Just 0.18 seconds separated 10th place from team Holcomb in second position, making the second heat a fiercely competitive race for the medals.
"We're making other teams nervous right now," Holcomb said. "When they announce the start is clear for us at the start, I want the team in the leader's box to be nervous. We're getting back to where we were before Sochi, and we're going to be a major threat again week in and out."
Holcomb's crew helped power the BMW sled to another start time of 5.07 seconds in run two to keep the three-time Olympic medalist in the hunt. Holcomb threaded together a run of 51.12 seconds to secure the bronze medal for Team USA with a combined time of 1:42.07.
"It's nice to be back in the mix," Holcomb said. "People in the background have said we can only medal on home tracks, but we're a threat everywhere we go. Once we dial in the BMW sled and get our push down, we'll be hard to beat."
Holcomb earned a four-man silver medal on home ice in Lake Placid, N.Y. in December. His last four-man medal on a European track was during the 2013-2014 season, when he claimed gold in Koenigssee, Germany and silver in Igls.
Rico Peter from Switzerland and his crew of Simon Friedli, Alex Baumann and Thomas Amrhein edged team Holcomb for the silver medal by a mere 0.01 seconds with a combined time of 1:42.06. Latvians Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreiskens, Janis Strenga and Arvis Vilkaste were victorious today with a cumulative time of 1:42.01.
Alexander Kasjanov from Russia continues to lead in overall four-man points. Peter is ranked second, and Holcomb is ranked third.
Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) teamed with Austin Landis (Nashville, Tenn.), Evan Weinstock (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) in the Night Train for 21st place. The team clocked the fifth-fastest start time of the field, 5.04, and a downtime of 51.47 seconds. Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) and his push crew of Luis Moreira (Somerville, Mass.), Adrian Adams (Reidsville, N.C.) and Christopher Kinney (Stockbridge, Ga.) finished 25th in the Night Train 2 after posting a start time of 5.14 for a run of 51.84 seconds. Only the top 20 teams after the first heat qualify for the second run.
"Unfortunately for these younger pilots, the little nuances you pick up from years of experience can get you," Holcomb said. "Olsen made a little mistake and it cost a lot. It looks back on paper, but it was such a minor mistake. These other guys have years of experience from the European Cup, and I've been driving this track for 17 years, but in a few years Olsen and Codie are going to be a major threat as well."
Today's four-man race concludes the Igls World Cup. The tour will return to Koenigssee, Germany for the 2017 World Championships before the eighth and final World Cup of the season on the 2018 Olympic track in South Korea.
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1. Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreiskens, Janis Strenga and Arvis Vilkaste (LAT) 1:42.01 (50.88, 51.13);
2. Rico Peter, Simon Friedli, Alex Baumann and Thomas Amrhein (SUI) 1:42.06 (50.98, 51.08);
3. Steven Holcomb, Carlo Valdes, Jimmy Reed and Sam McGuffie (USA) 1:42.07 (50.95, 51.12);
21. Justin Olsen, Austin Landis, Evan Weinstock and Sam Michener (USA) 51.47 (51.47, DNS);
25. Codie Bascue, Chris Kinney, Lou Moreira and Adrian Adams (USA) 51.84 (51.84, DNS);