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Cunningham teams with Robinson to finish ninth in World Cup debut
WHISTLER, Canada (Feb. 3, 2012)–Rookie pilots Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) put forth a solid effort in tonight’s two-man bobsled World Cup race in Whistler. Cunningham teamed with Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) for his World Cup debut as a driver to lead the U.S. squad with a ninth place finish, while Butner and Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas) finished 15th.
“Most of these teams have never seen Cory and I before, so we had a lot to prove,” Cunningham said. “We wanted to make a statement to the world that we are here to compete and that there’s depth in the U.S. program.”
The last time Cunningham was on the Whistler track he was a brakeman for Mike Kohn at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The elite push athlete decided to try his hand at driving a sled following the Games, and secured 11 medals on the America’s Cup tour already this season.
“Competing here in the Olympics was a dream and it was the best time I’ve had in my entire life,” Cunningham said. “Coming back and following that experience with a top 10 finish as a driver feels amazing.”
Cunningham and Robinson displayed their power by bursting off the block with identical start times of 4.81 seconds in the two-heat race, and Cunningham led the crew to the finish with nearly matching finish times of 52.53 and 52.54 seconds.
“Our goal was to be one of the top teams in the push, and we did that,” Cunningham said. “Dallas rose to the occasion today and I think we made some other nations take note of us. I put together the two best runs yet on this track during the race, so I’m excited to see what we can do in the four-man competition tomorrow.”
Competing against experienced Olympic and World Championship medalists, USA-1 was in the mix on one of the world’s toughest tracks. The crew’s cumulative time of 1 minute, 45.07 seconds put the team in ninth.
“It’s easy to succeed when you’re given the tools,” Cunningham said. “The coaches have really stepped up to help us and we have a great crew of push athletes here as well.”
Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden were victorious on their home track after clocking a total time of 1:44.14. Maximilian Arndt and Martin Putze from Germany trailed by 0.07 seconds to claim silver, while Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter secured bronze for Switzerland with a combined time of 1:44.36.
USA-2 pilot Butner teamed with Quinn for his first World Cup race of the 2011-2012 season. Butner, like Cunningham, spent the last few weeks learning the challenging Whistler course leading up to the seventh World Cup race of the season.
The pair pushed off the block in 4.88 and 4.90 seconds for respectable start times. Butner struggled from the mid portion of the track to the finish, but he posted consistent runs of 52.94 and 52.99 seconds to finish 15th with a combined time of 1:45.93.
“Cory and I will always battle each other out as long as we’re in the sport, and we really bring the best out in each other,” Cunningham said. “We’re so close that any one of us could lead on any given day. We push each other to succeed, and I think it strengthens the U.S. program.”
Bobsled drivers Steven Holcomb and John Napier opted to gain extra training time on the 2012 World Championship track in Lake Placid, N.Y., which allowed for the U.S. to enter Cunningham and Butner in the Canadian World Cup events. If the U.S. qualifies a third sled for World Championships, Cunningham or Butner will be entered.
The Whistler event concludes tomorrow night with the four-man bobsled competition, and you can watch the action live by visiting www.fibt.com. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at email@example.com, or at (518) 354-2250.
1. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:44.14 (52.04, 52.10); 2. Maximilian Arndt and Martin Putze (GER) 1:44.21 (51.95, 52.26); 3. Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter (SUI) 1:44.36 (52.23, 52.13);…9. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 1:45.07 (52.53, 52.54);…15. Cory Butner and Johnny Quinn (USA) 1:45.93 (52.94, 52.99);
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: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.