Holcomb Wins Historical Four-man Bobsled World Championship Title

March 01, 2009, 1:54 p.m. (ET)
Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager

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

For Immediate Release

March 1, 2009

Holcomb Wins Historical Four-man Bobsled World Championship Title

Lake Placid, N.Y.- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) made history after claiming the four-man bobsled World Championship title in Lake Placid, N.Y. today.  Deafening cheers greeted the "Night Train" as it crossed the finish line in the final heat to claim the trophy by 0.97 seconds. 

"I'm so happy and proud of Steve," said Brian Shimer, men's bobsled head coach.  "It couldn't have happened to a better guy.  Our eyes met and they said, ‘Let's do it.'"

As Holcomb's crew climbed out of the sled, team members and coaches immediately embraced them, jumping up and down, some wiping away tears of joy while others just continued to repeat, "You did it."

"We did it," agreed Holcomb.  "It was huge.  I knew we couldn't show any leniency, because the other teams didn't last year.  I think Lange beat us last year by 15 seconds or something.  We needed to show them that we could do it, too.  We did, and I can't believe finally after 50 years we got it done."

Holcomb's victory ended a U.S. 50-year World Championship medal drought. The last time the U.S. won a four-man bobsled World Championships was in 1959, when Art Taylor nabbed gold in St. Moritz. 

"I drove by instinct," said Holcomb.  "I didn't have to think about it.  I knew what I was doing and it's the same thing I've been doing all year, and I needed to do it again today.  Basically it was another day at the office, except I won the World Championships."

Shimer joked that the sled now belongs in the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum in town.  BoDyn sled designer, Bob Cuneo, quickly chimed in to say, "No."

"The ‘Night Train' was supposed to be a test sled," said Holcomb.  "Technically we haven't tested the sled yet, and we don't even know if it's the fastest sled we have.  It's about time we added World Championships to Cuneo's resume.  The sled can sit in the museum all summer as long as it has signs that say, ‘Do not touch, do not sit,' and as long as I get it back, I don't mind."

Team USA I push athletes Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Steve Mesler (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) were pumped at the starting line, feeding off the deafening roar of fans screaming.  Holcomb stood in a relaxed stance with hands tucked under his arms, trying to focus on the two runs ahead of him rather than the historic marker he might place at the finish. 

Holcomb's Bodyn sled, the "Night Train", crossed the finish with a four-run combined time of three minutes, 36.61 seconds to claim the four-man bobsled World Championship title by nearly a second. 

Holcomb's team powered off the starting block in 4.99 and 5.01 seconds, second and third fastest of the day.  Holcomb maintained his lead from yesterday, and convincingly dominated the competition with runs of 53.78 and 54.30 seconds.  Only a few sleds have ever crossed the finish line in under 54 seconds, and the start was wild when the clock stopped after the first heat today. 

Germany's Andre Lange was not able to defend his title against the "Night Train," and finished second with Alexander Roediger, Kevin Kuske and Martin Putze with a total time of 3:37.58.  Lange and crew pushed the fastest start times, an identical 4.97 in both heats, for final runs of 54.06 and 54.50 seconds. 

Janis Minins from Latvia finished third with Daumants Dreiskens, Oskars Melbardis and Intars Dambis.  The Latvian crew pushed start times of 5.08 and 5.04 for runs of 54.08 and 54.52 seconds, respectively. 

Todd Hays (Del Rio, Texas) finished his first World Championships back from retirement in ninth with a combined time of 3:39.12.  Teamed with T.J. Burns (Blue Bell, Pa.), Alex Sprague (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Bill Schuffenhauer (Ogden, Utah), Hays pushed identical starts of 5.12 for runs of 54.57 and 54.79 seconds.

"I'm happy about this year," said Hays.  "My goal was to be in the top ten, and I was able to do that.  Now we have a good barometer of where we are, and we can start to make a climb towards the Olympics.  Next year should be a very good year."

John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and his push squad of Jesse Beckom (Chicago, Ill.), Jamie Moriarty (Winnetka, Ill.) and Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) finished 11th with a total time of 3:39.63.  The young 22-year old and his crew pushed times of 5.15 and 5.16 for final heats of 54.69 and 54.87 seconds. 

"I'm excited but sad that the season is over," said Napier.  "I can't wait to prep for next season and to get better.  People are going to see a different Napier next year.  I'm going to put on some weight so that we can take some lead out of the sled, which will help our push times."

Visit http://www.universalsports.com/ to watch the Night Train slide to the finish for the vistory.  For photos of the U.S. men in action, visit the web site of photographer Todd Bissonette at www.usabobsledphotos.com.

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


1. Holcomb, Olsen, Mesler and Tomasevicz (USA) 3:36.61 (54.02, 54.51, 53.78, 54.30); 2.Lange, Roediger, Kuske and Putze (GER) 3:37.58 (54.41, 54,61, 54.06, 54.50); 3. Minins, Dreiskens, Melbardis and Dambis (LAT) 3:37.61 (54.39, 54.62, 54.08, 54.52);...9. Hays, Burns, Sprague and Schuffenhauer (USA) 3:39.12 (54.80, 54.96, 54.57, 54.79);...11. Napier, Beckom, Moriarty and Cunningham (USA) 3:39.63 (54.94, 55.13, 54.69, 54.87)

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, ULU Boots and Ferris Mfg. Corp. 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, EXA, Lumber Liquidators, Lincoln Electronics and Racing Electronics.  For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org/.