USA Bobsled and Skeleton athletes celebrate one year out from Games in Sochi

Feb. 06, 2013, 1:44 p.m. (ET)

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director
(518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

USA Bobsled & Skeleton athletes celebrate one-year out from Games in Sochi


SOCHI, Russia (Feb. 6, 2013)-The countdown has begun to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes celebrated the one-year marker to competition while training at the Olympic venue in Sochi, Russia today.  NBC will begin primetime coverage of the Games the day before the Opening Ceremony.  Olympic competition is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, which will mark the first time any U.S. media company has dedicated primetime coverage to Olympic competition prior to the Opening Ceremony.

Bobsled and skeleton athletes got a first-time view of the track on Tuesday, and will compete in an Olympic dress rehearsal next weekend to conclude the 2012-2013 World Cup season. 

Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) is the reigning Olympic champion in the four-man bobsled event and boasts the four-man and two-man bobsled World Championship titles.   The U.S. team hasn’t claimed an Olympic gold medal in the two-man race since 1936, and it’s the only title still missing from Holcomb’s sliding resume. With just four runs of experience on the 2014 Olympic track, Holcomb is starting to visualize his goal. 

“We’re looking forward to next year, and it’s exciting to come here and check out the track and town,” Holcomb said.  “So far everything is great.  The track is exciting, and the team is pumped up and excited to go into next season.” 

The Sochi track has taken the team by surprise.  While the track isn’t the fastest or most technical in the world, it does offer some unique challenges.

“This is actually the first time ever on this track,” Holcomb said.  “It’s pretty incredible. It’s not the highest speed, like Whistler, which made it difficult and dangerous.  This track is more mild.  There are three sections that are uphill, which is rare…it creates a challenge, because if you make a mistake in the uphill section it’ll double or triple by the finish.”

Women’s bobsled pilot Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) claimed the 2010 Olympic bronze medal as a brakeman for Erin Pac on the challenging course in Whistler, Canada.  Three years later she’s a favorite to medal again, only this time she’s at the helm of the sled.  Meyers said she enjoys the amusement park feeling of the Sochi course.

“The track is a lot of fun,” Meyers said.  “It feels more like a rollercoaster than any other track I’ve been on.  It’s not difficult to get down, but there will be some important parts to get right for speed.  It all starts with the start though; if you don’t have a fast start on this track, it will be very tough to compete for a medal.”

Meyers was one of few athletes invited to homologate the track last March, and she said the progression of construction since her last visit is impressive.

“The airport has expanded so much since we were here last time, and it’s incredible to see,” Meyers said.  “They’ve done a good job of posting signs in English and Russian, but I’m working on my Russian now because there’s definitely a need to learn it.”

Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) battled it out for the North American Cup title last season, and the third-year drivers rank the Sochi track on the top of their lists.

“It is a gorgeous facility,” Cunningham said.  “The track is easy to get down and lacks a lot of speed, but there are some sections of the track that can win or lose a race.  This track has some uphill sections and some curves that start uphill and end going downhill.  It is very unique, and very fun to drive.”

“The track is awesome,” Butner said.  “It’s going to favor fast starters for sure.  It’s pretty easy, but it has to be driven right to be fast.  There aren’t any really tricky spots, but the uphill parts of the track add a little extra fun.”

The biggest challenge so far hasn’t been on the track, but with the massive amount of construction going on around the hotel.  Reigning four-man bobsled Olympic champion Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) said the area around the Olympic venues resembles Cesana, Italy prior to the 2006 Games.

“My initial reaction is similar to the reaction I had the first time we went to Cesana for international testing before the 2006 Olympics,” Tomasevicz said.  “There is a lot of construction going on in the area during all hours of the day and night.  The track is in great sliding condition despite the construction.  The sliding venue itself is in a great location and the architecture of the track is amazing.”

“It seems that everything is under construction,” Cunningham said.  “Apparently there is no noise ordinance put in place, because right outside our window all night long is the sound of tractors, saws cutting, and trucks coming and going.  I cannot wait to see what this place looks like in a year.  Everyone is pretty excited to be here, and it’s the first time visiting Russia for most of us.  It’s great to see a new country, and of course to learn and slide a new track.”

Butner said the track is packed with volunteers that assist by translating or directing teams at the venue, which has been extremely helpful for the wide-eyed team members visiting Russia for the first time.

“This place has been really nice so far, and I’m really enjoying myself here,” Butner said. “The work crews here have been working nonstop to get things ready for next year.” 

Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at abird@usbsf.com or 518-354-2250 with media inquiries.

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: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, WIDIA, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.

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