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Holcomb and Langton break two-man bobsled Olympic medal drought with bronze medal finish
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 17, 2014)- Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) are the first Americans in 62 years to win a two-man bobsled Olympic medal after claiming bronze at the Sanki Sliding Center tonight. USA-1 finished a nail-biting 0.03 seconds ahead of fourth to secure a medal with a four-run combined time of 3:46.27.
“I think I’m more excited for this bronze than I was for mine,” said U.S. Men’s Bobsled Head Coach Brian Shimer, who was part of the 2002 Olympic team that broke a 46-year medal drought in four-man bobsled.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of historic events in my career in bobsled, and I’m just glad to be a part of this one too,” Shimer said. “Bronze may seem like a step down from what we were expecting, but with the challenges we had and the hurdles we had to get over, it was a great ending.”
Holcomb strained his calf muscle a few steps into the push on the second run yesterday, and the medical staff worked into the morning hours to treat and prepare him for the final runs today.
“I let my horse here take over,” Holcomb said as he pointed to Langton. “We pushed harder than I expected, and going into that last heat, we knew we had to bring everything we had if we wanted to bring home a medal. There was a lot of pressure going into this.”
Holcomb and Langton pushed the BMW sled off the block for a start time of 4.92 seconds, and Holcomb maintained third with a third heat time of 56.41 seconds. The competition was closing in, and the race for bronze would come down to the fourth and final heat.
Knowing they needed to lay it all on the line, USA-1 pushed a start time of 4.88 seconds to keep themselves in contention. Their lead over Russia’s second sled started to dwindle, but Holcomb and Langton crossed the finish line 0.03 seconds ahead for bronze to break a 62-year two-man bobsled Olympic medal drought for the American program.
“This is my second 62-year medal drought that I’ve broken, which is awesome,” Holcomb said. “If anybody else has a 62-year medal drought they need to break, just let me know and we’ll try to help you. It’s overwhelming. There’s so much that goes into this, and there are dozens of people behind this team. We may be the only two standing up here, but there’s a huge team behind us pushing us.”
Holcomb snapped a 62-year gold medal drought in four-man bobsled at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and has since had his sights set on accomplishing the one item missing from his sliding resume: an Olympic two-man medal.
“I’m going home an Olympic medalist, and I’m happy with that,” Holcomb said. “I have a four-man Olympic gold medal, four-man and two-man world championship titles, but I didn’t have an Olympic anything in two-man. It was the missing piece.”
Holcomb met his dream tonight, but not after a long and often difficult journey. Holcomb conquered an eye ailment, keratoconus, which nearly stole his vision and ruined his career leading up to 2010. He spiraled into depression before reaching out to his team for help. Help came in the form of a new two-step procedure created by Dr. Brian Wachler, which saved Holcomb’s sight from deterioration. He struggled to adapt his driving, which changed when his vision was restored since he could now see the course when before he could only feel it.
As he steadily regained confidence, Holcomb’s success also surged. BMW stepped in to help redesign the two-man sled into a sleeker model, and the U.S. women’s and men’s bobsled team have claimed over 20 medals since the fleet was unveiled last October. Holcomb has claimed six World Championship medals and 23 World Cup medals, 10 of which were earned this year alone, in the four seasons leading up to the 2014 Sochi Games.
Langton has also had a bumpy journey leading up to his Olympic medal moment. He was on track to join Holcomb’s USA-1 sled in 2008, but hip surgery kept him on the sidelines. Back to the top of his game, Langton was once again on track for a spot in Holcomb’s sled, but an injury during a push training session left him on crutches for a month in 2009. He showed his resiliency by again coming back, and proved he’s one of the best bobsled athletes in the world by pushing Holcomb to the first ever two-man World Championship title for the U.S. in 2012.
“I’m struggling right now to comprehend all of this,” Langton said. “Everything I’ve done as an athlete has been working towards this point. It’s my seventh year in the sport, and I had hip surgery, then knee surgery, and those bumps in the road really make you reconsider if you should keep going in the sport. Standing here today, I can certainly say it was worth the journey. I was nearly sacked over the short wall by teammates after we came to the finish, and that’s why I do this. It’s been a monumental team effort to get us to this point. Having a dream that I’ve had since a kid come true is just unreal.”
Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda from Russia were victorious by a margin of 0.66 seconds with a four-run combined time of 3:45.39. Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann from Switzerland finished 0.22 seconds ahead of USA-1 to claim the silver medal in 3:46.05.
Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah) finished 12 with a total time of 3:47.19 after posting runs of 56.77 and 56.86 seconds today.
“I’m just enjoying the moment,” Butner said. “It’s disappointing knowing I was in medal contention, but we threw down today and gave it our best shot. It’s a dream being here, and I am so proud to have had Captain Fogt in my sled.”
Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) finished on the heels of their teammates in 13th with a total of 3:47.69.
“We gave it all, all the way to the last corner of the last run,” Cunningham said. “We didn’t come out on top, so we’re disappointed. We wanted to medal, but it’s really about wearing USA on our backs and being a part of this amazing team.”
Competition continues tomorrow with the first two heats of the women’s bobsled Olympic race at 7:15 p.m. local time.
Please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Director, at email@example.com or 719-207-5040 with media inquiries.
Heats 1 & 2 Results:
1. Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda (RUS) 3:45.39 (56.25, 56.57, 56.08, 56.49); 2. Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann (SUI) 3:46.05 (56.46, 56.68, 56.26, 56.65); 3. Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton (USA) 3:46.27 (56.34, 56.84, 56.41, 56.68);…Cory Butner and Chris Fogt (USA) 3:47.19 (56.45, 57.11, 56.77, 56.86); 13. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 3:47.69 (56.73, 57.07, 56.98, 56.91);
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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, Century 21 Real Estate, CEVA Logistics, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Boomerang Carnets, 24 Hour Fitness, KBC Helmets, Eastern European Distribution Company, Azad Watches, Latta USA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, Park City Lodging, Inc., EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.