Steven Holcomb poses for a portrait ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 3, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
U.S. bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb injured his calf earlier this week at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, but that didn’t stop him and two-man partner Steve Langton from earning the bronze medal the next night.
Remember that Holcomb is the captain of adversity. He overcame degenerative eye disease with a surgical procedure in 2008 and went on to win a four-man gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games — Team USA’s first in the event since 1948. The surgery restored his vision from 20-500 to 20-20.
Holcomb blasted his way through the calf injury to claim the two-man bronze medal with Langton Monday. It was the first Olympic medal for the United States in 62 years in two-man.
Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 22 and 23, the final two days of the Winter Games, Holcomb will be the driver of the USA-1 sled in his attempt to win a second consecutive Olympic gold in four-man.
There is nothing but icy confidence among the U.S. bobsledders, who have medaled in every bobsled event in Sochi. Joining Holcomb in the USA-1 sled are Curt Tomasevicz, Langton and Chris Fogt. Nick Cunningham, Johnny Quinn, Dallas Robinson and Justin Olsen will be in USA-2. Tomasevicz is the only returning push athlete from Holcomb’s 2010 four-man sled.
“These push athletes are some of the most incredible athletes you’ll ever come across,” Holcomb said this week after a training run.
The four-man bobsledding races will take place over two days at the Sanki Sliding Center. Two runs for each team will be held Saturday and Sunday with the lowest combined times determining the medal winners.
This time the Olympic competition is vastly different for Holcomb and the rest of USA-1. They are defending champs instead of trying to chase others for Olympic gold. They also started the 2013-14 with three consecutive world cup wins in the United States and Canada.
“Having won in 2010 takes the pressure off,” said Holcomb, a three-time Olympian who was also an Olympic alternate in 2002. “We’ve been there, done that. Once you win a race you have the confidence that you know how to do it. Then it comes more natural. So we know how to do it and what it takes.”
The race for gold could be an icy and speedy battle between Holcomb’s team and Russian driver Alexander Zubkov, who won the two-man bobsled on his home track.
“It’s going to be a good race and the Russians are going to be fast again,” Holcomb said. “They know this track better than anybody.”
“We knew Zubkov would be the man to beat in the four-man,” Tomasevicz said, “but if there’s a team that can do it, I think it’s the four of us.”
What about that injured calf? In training runs, Holcomb has been more running alongside the sled instead of pushing it. The pushing will come in competition. He is receiving medical treatment up to three times a day and said he was about 75 percent back to form on Friday, the final day for official training runs. Come race day, there is little question that Holcomb and his team will be ready.
“Each guy has their own part they are working with,” Holcomb said. “Some are working on timing. I’m working on getting down the hill and a decent push. When we work on each thing individually, it comes together as a team.”