Holcomb Sees Silver Lining in Two-man Bobsled Competition

Dec. 06, 2008, 7:35 a.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

(518) 523-1842, ext 106, abird@usbsf.com

For Immediate Release

December 6, 2008

Holcomb Sees Silver Lining in Two-man Bobsled Competition

ALTENBERG, Germany– Two-man bobsled competition continued today on the notoriously difficult track in Altenberg, Germany.  Steven Holcomb(Park City, Utah) carried his momentum from his bronze medal performance in four-man last weekend by adding silver to his growing list of 2008-09 accomplishments in today’s two-man competition. 

Visit www.UniversalSports.com to see Holcomb's team slide to the finish for the bronze by clicking on the Luge and Bobsled Channel for on-demand video. 

“Steve struggled here last here at World Championships,” said Brian Shimer, men’s bobsled head coach and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist.  “It’s amazing what a little more time on a track will do, and this was a great result for the team.”

Holcomb was nearly blind last season when he navigated the course during World Championships.  Holcomb suffered from a degenerative eye disease called keratoconus, and couldn’t even read the top line of an eye chart let alone the numbers above each curve.  Over the summer Holcomb had a contact embedded behind the iris called Implantable Collamer Lens, making his vision close to perfect. 

“It’s great to actually see where I’m going, and it’s definitely a little different,” said Holcomb.  “I can see a lot more, but I can’t let that effect how I drive.  Last week in Winterberg I was seeing things on the track and then driving, which was a mistake.  I learned how to drive by feel, and that’s how I need to continue driving.  That’s what I did today, and it worked.”

Holcomb and U.S. National Push Champion Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) pushed a start time of 5.35 in the snow for a first heat time of 55.95, putting the team in third.  Determined to stay in the medal hunt, the duo pushed off the starting block in 5.39 seconds, and Holcomb navigated his sled to the finish in 56.90 seconds, moving the team into second place for the silver medal with a combined time of 1:52.85. 

“Justin did a great job,” said Holcomb.  “These conditions weren’t ideal for push times, and we were able to stay within a few hundredths at the start from some of the top teams.  That’s hard to do on a clear day, let alone a snowy one.”

Olympic and World Champion Andre Lange continued his domination on his home track, claiming gold by 0.25 seconds with a two-run total of 1:52.60.  Teamed with Kevin Kuske, the German duo pushed start times of 5.27 and 5.37 for runs of 55.80 and 56.80, respectively. 

Beat Hefti continues to make an impression on the World Cup circuit with his teammate Thomas Lamparter.  The 2008 European Cup Champions slid a bronze medal performance today with a total time of 1:53.11.  The Swiss team burst off the block with a start time of 5.20, sliding to the finish ahead of Holcomb in the first heat with a run of 55.86.  Repeating their 5.20 push in the second heat, team Hefti crossed the finish line in 57.25 seconds, dropping one spot into third behind the U.S. team. 

Todd Hays (Del Rio, Texas) teamed with Alex Sprague (Indianapolis, Ind.) for a ninth place finish with a two-heat total of 1:53.82.  Hays and Sprague were in the medal hunt after the first run with a time of 56.25 seconds, but fell back in the second heat after sliding to the finish in 57.57 seconds. 

“Todd didn’t make any major mistakes in the second run,” said Shimer.  “He just made some small mistakes at the wrong time in the wrong place.  He was in a position to be in the top six, but it’s been a long time since Todd has driven this track.  This isn’t the kind of course you can be away from and then come back to win.”

Sliding action will continue tomorrow with the four-man competition at 4:30 am ET. 

Coverage from today’s competition can be viewed on-demand by visiting UniversalSports.com.  Universal Sports TV will also offer a one-hour highlight show on Tuesday, Dec. 9th from 7-10 pm ET.

Complete results can be found by visiting the web site for the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing at www.fibt.com.  For additional information, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at (518) 523-1842, ext. 106, or abird@usbsf.com

Results:

1. Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske (GER) 1:52.60 (55.80, 56.80); 2. Steven Holcomb and Justin Olsen (USA) 1:52.85 (55.95, 56.90); 3. Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter (SUI) 1:53.11 (55.86, 57.25);…9. Todd Hays and Alex Sprague (USA) 1:53.82 (56.25, 57.57)

About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation

The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: Allianz Life, Vilter Manufacturing, KBC Helmets, Luminox Watch Company and ULU Boots. The USBSF would also like to thank the following sponsors and suppliers for their partner, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project:  Whelen Engineering, PPG, Columbia Sportswear, JEGS Automotive, Lucas Oil, Mac Tools and Racing Electronics.  For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.

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