CESANA, Italy-Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) placed fifth in today's two-man bobsled competition in Cesana, Italy. The two-man bobsled race was canceled in Cortina, Italy last week due to inclement weather, and was rescheduled for today in Cesana. The regularly scheduled two-man competition for Cesana will take place tomorrow at 10:30 am EST. The jury encountered additional problems in today's race with the timing system, which continually failed throughout the competition, causing several holds and interruptions."Today was frustrating because there's a lot riding on these races,"Holcomb said."The top two ranked athletes in combined points after Cesana get to homologate Vancouver, where the 2010 Olympics will be held. So every run counts."In order to conserve his brakeman over the three days of competitions, Holcomb teamed with veteran athlete Steve Mesler (Calgary, Alberta), who competes in Holcomb's four-man team as a side push athlete. The American duo pushed the ninth fastest start time of the first heat, a 4.93, stopping the clock in 56.34 seconds for the fourth fastest time of the heat. Holcomb was only 0.02 seconds from the medals going into the second heat."I strained my groin while warming up, and then I slipped off the push bar at the start,"Holcomb said."Despite that, Mesler did a great job keeping us in the mix at the start."Pushing a 4.92, Holcomb piloted his Bo-Dyn sled into fifth with a combined time of 1:53.43 after a second run time of 57.09 seconds. Holcomb tied for the gold medal in the 2006-07 season in Cesana's two-man competition, and will look to improve his performance in tomorrow's two-man race. Italian Simone Bertazzo shocked a hometown crowd by piloting his sled into the lead for the gold medal. Bertazzo teamed with Samuele Romanini to win not only his first career World Cup gold, but also Italy's first two-man victory in a decade. Bertazzo was one of the first sleds to be effected by the timing issues during the competition, and was granted an additional first run. He slid into second place with a time of 56.26 seconds after the first heat. Germany's Andre Lange, reigning Olympic Champion from the 2006 Olympics in Cesana, had the fastest run of the first heat, a 56.16. Bertazzo blasted off a second run time of 56.85 after pushing the fastest start time of the heat, a 4.82, for a total of 1:53.11, and watched carefully as Lange took the last run of the competition. Lange slid a second run time of 57.04 seconds, and looked visibly disappointed as he looked up to see his two-run total of 1:53.20, putting him 0.09 seconds behind the Italians. Ivo Rueegg and Roman Handschin from Switzerland won bronze after runs of 56.32 and 56.89 for a combined time of 1:53.21, just 0.01 seconds from second. Mike Kohn (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) teamed with first-year push athlete Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) for a 19th place finish today. The duo clocked a first run time of 57.27 and a second run of 57.27 for a combined time of 1:54.36. Log onto www.NBCOlympics.com, presented by MediaZone, to watch the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Team in action LIVE and On-Demand. Women's bobsled will compete at 3 am on Saturday, Jan. 19, with two-man bobsled following at 10:30 am. The Cesana World Cup will conclude on Sunday, Jan. 20 with four-man bobsled at 3 am. All times listed are in EST. For complete results of the race, please visit www.bobsleigh.com, the Web site of the Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganning (FIBT). Results: 1. Simone Bertazzo and Samuele Romanini (ITA) 1:53.11 (56.26, 56.85); 2. Andre Lange and Martin Putze (GER) 1:53.20 (56.16, 57.04); 3. Ivo Rueegg and Roman Handschin (SUI) 1:53.21 (56.32, 56.89);_5. Steven Holcomb and Steve Mesler (USA) 1:53.43 (56.34, 57.09);_19. Mike Kohn and Steve Langton (USA) 1:54.36 (57.09, 57.27); 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, ULU Boots, CW-X, KBC Helmets, Racing Electronics, Schenker Logistics, Speedo and Whelen Engineering. For more information, please visit the USBSF Web site at www.usbsf.com.