BOBSLED: Holcomb in Medal Hunt After Day One of Four-Man Bobsled World Championships
ALTENBERG, Germany-Thousands of fans gathered to watch the first two heats of the four-man bobsled World Championships in Altenberg, Germany today. Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) was the top U.S. driver, and will enter tomorrow's finale in sixth position, just 0.37 seconds from the top three."There are more people here than at the Olympics,"Holcomb said."It's pretty cool."Teamed with Pavle Jovanovic (Tom's River, N.J.), Steve Mesler (Calgary, Alberta) and Brock Kreitzburg (Akron, Ohio), USA I pushed a 5.29, seventh best of the heat, for a first run time of 55.28 seconds, also seventh fastest of the heat."Driving four-man is different here,"Holcomb said."Any little mistake you make is hard to correct. This is a very difficult track to slide, but it's fun."Eager to move into medal position, which is top six for World Championships, team USA I improved their start time, pushing a 5.24, for a run of 55.13 seconds. Holcomb's time was third fastest of the second heat, which was enough to move the team up one position into sixth with a two-run total of 1:50.41."We were a little behind at the start, but I also made a few mistakes with my driving in the first heat,"Holcomb said."The guys on my team are motivated and we're still in sixth place with room to move up. Anything can happen on this track, so the top three is not impossible."Two-man World Champion Andre Lange from Germany continued his dominance today, finishing with a total time of 1:48.91 after sliding the fastest two heats of the competition, 54.24 and 54.67. Teamed with Rene Hoppe, Kevin Kuske and Martin Putze, team GER I exploded off the block with the fastest start times of the day, an identical 5.07 in both heats. German teammates Matthias Hoepfner, Ronny Listner, Alexander Mann and Thomas Poege finished second today, 1.05 seconds behind Lange. The team slid runs of 54.91 and 55.05 for a total time of 1:49.96. In third was RUS I piloted by Alexander Zoubkov and pushed by Roman Orechnikov, Dmitry Trunenkov and Dmitry Stepushkin with a combined time of 1:50.04 after runs of 54.62 and 55.42. Tomorrow will be a fight for the medals with the top six teams only 0.45 seconds from each other. John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) piloted USA III into 18th position in his first World Championships with a combined time of 1:52.10. His squad of Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Jacob Miller (Waterford, Va.) and Chuck Berkeley (Clayton, Calif.) helped push him to identical start times of 5.42 seconds in both heats. Napier drove to the finish in 56.18 seconds, putting the team in 19th position after the first run."I was pretty frustrated with my first run,"Napier said."I drove like an angry teenager that just stole his mom's minivan."Napier improved in the second heat with a run of 55.92 seconds, moving him up one position into 18th."Driving four-man is exhilarating, especially on this track,"Napier said."That's why I love this sport, it's such a rush. My second run was better, but it's still not perfect. I'm excited for the final runs tomorrow."Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) teamed with Jamie Moriarty (Winnetka, Ill.), TJ Burns (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) to finish 22nd today. USA III pushed a start time of 5.34 seconds for a down time of 56.07, placing them in 16th position going into the second heat. Pushing a 5.32 in the second heat, Kohn made a mistake entering corner 14, causing the sled to roll over at the exit. The sled was able to cross the finish line in 57.99 seconds, giving the team a total time of 1:54.06. The team was not injured."Mike was too high in the corner,"said Brian Shimer, U.S. bobsled head coach."He went up to the lip, which brought him out too early, causing him to rise up at the end and roll over."The four-man World Championship title will be decided tomorrow Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 am EST. Watch the action LIVE on NBCOlympics.com. For complete results of today's race, visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: 1. Lange, Hoppe, Kuske and Putze (GER I) 1:48.91 (54.24, 54.67); 2. Hoepfner, Listner, Mann and Poege (GER III) 1:49.96 (54.91, 55.05); 3. Zoubkov, Orechnikov, Trunenkov and Stepushkin (RUS I) 1:50.04 (4.62, 55.42);_ 6. Holcomb, Jovanovic, Mesler and Kreitzburg (USA I) 1:50.41 (55.28, 55.13);_18. Napier, Olsen, Miller and Berkeley (USA I) 1:52.10 (56.18, 55.92);_22. Kohn, Moriarty, Burns and Langton (USA II) 1:54.06 (56.07, 57.99); 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, Columbia Sportswear Company, Speedo, CW-X, KBC Helmets, ULU Boots, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Lumber Liquidators and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.