USA Bobsled/Skeleton Features 2008 World Champions...

2008 World Championships

June 12, 2008, 4:37 p.m. (ET)

All I can say is that this has been two rough weeks. We are in Germany, a country that actually cares about Bobsledding, which means they are on their home track, and to make things harder nobody, other than the Germans, has been able to train here. So it's basically a battle for 4th place. If you get 4th you can consider it a win; the Germans are going to win this hands down. I know it's sounds negative, but it is, and unfortunately, that is how it works in the bobsled world. Not much I can do, other than my best.
Let me start off by saying, Altenberg is my worst track. In 6 years of driving my worst results have been here. This just isn't my track. So, when I tell you how the 2-man went you'll understand. Actually, it might be better if I just skip to the end, we finished 10th. Just as the FIBT would have it, the Team Event was the very next day after the 2-man. We don't need to take a break. No, none at all. I wasn't totally worn out from racing as hard as I could 2 days in a row. Let's make it 3. So, we did. And 3 seemed to be the magical number of the day. I'll tell you why in a second. First an explanation of the team event, apparently they are trying to make it an Olympic Event. I doubt it will ever happen, but hey, who knows. If nothing else, it is a lot of fun. Here's how it goes, each country that enters the race gets to enter 1 female skeleton athlete, 1 male skeleton, 1 female bobsledder, and 1 male bobsledder; it covers the entire federation of sports. It really doesn't count for anything because there are only a few countries that actually have all 4 disciplines, regardless, it is the most fun anybody will have sliding. Because it doesn't really hold any weight just yet, everybody lets loose and has a great time. What is really cool is that each country has their own strengths and weaknesses; and to be honest the US has by far the strongest all-around team. We have Katie Uhlaender, the 2007 and 2008 World Cup Champion and 2008 World Championship Silver Medalist; on the men's side we have Zach Lund the 2007 World Cup Champion, and Eric Bernotas who is always fighting for that top spot as well. For the Women's Bobsled we have Shauna Rohbock who is 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2007 World Cup Overall Runner-up. On the Men's side, well, you have me, and of course that is the most important of all. ;-) I'm like the 4 leg of the Men's 4x400m Relay. (You trackies know what I'm talking about). Plus, I have to say that, it's my blog for crying out loud. Anyway, as usual the standing changed each heat, this team was in first, then moved to 2nd. That team went from 4th to 2nd, and so on. It all came down to the Men's bobsled, the last event. I know what you are thinking, but really, it came down to the last run. We were sitting in 4th place, just outside the medals. We had to beat Great Britain, Canada, and/or Germany to get on the podium. Well, I did the best I could. I started out with a 0.28s deficit. In the end, we lost by 0.08. I did what I could, unfortunately it just wasn't enough. We ended up 3rd behind the Canadians, and of course the Germans won. Go figure. Regardless, not only myself and my team, but the entire field of atheltes had a blast. I can't wait for the next team race.
The 4-man was actually kind of exciting, at least for a few of us. Of course GER I won the race by over 2 seconds. Which is just stupid, that's not really racing now is it. Oh well. There was however a great race for 6th place. The top 6 sleds get trophy's, so at the worlds a top 6 finish is great. After the first run we were way behind, more that 1.10 seconds behind GER I. Gee, this is fun. They are the only team that has been able to go down the track in the last couple of years remind you. If they don't win, it would be a disgrace. Anyway, Latvia was only a few hundreths behind us. The next two runs we went back and forth, fighting for 6th. We all wanted a trophy, and to say we finished top 6. It came down to the last run and what should happen? Mesler strains his groin. No, really, he did. I swear. I couldn't make this stuff up. Now, we are fighting to the 100th of a second, we can't afford to have 3 guys pushing a 4-man sled. We did everything we could but the rules stated that Mesler had to race. We only had one choice..... to come together as a team, for Mesler to "Just get in the sled, we'll do the rest."
We took off from the start block like our lives depended on it. Which in a sense they did. When I called the cadence and hit the sled, I put every ounce of effort I had; Pavle did the same, and so did Curt. Mesler did one hell of a job not slowing us down even though he was hurt, which is not easy by the way. (Read a few post back about my groin injury, I went through the same pain.) We train in such a way that the 500+ pound sled gets moving pretty fast after just a few steps, for Mesler to keep up and keep from pulling back was an athletic feat. He did all we could ask for. Team Holcomb pushed 5.31; which tied the worst time all week. When we finally loaded into the sled we were 0.28 seconds behind the Latvians who were out for blood. Now, going into this run I knew that I had to do everything right. I had 19 runs to figure out all the turns, now is the time to make sure I applied what I learned over the 2 weeks. Not sure how, but it somehow came together. We went from 0.28 seconds back to 0.31, to, then 0.25, then with only 3 curves left we were 0.19 behind, and eternity in bobsledding. When we finally crossed the finish line we were 0.05 ahead at the bottom. It was a near miracle, in fact I would have to say it was one of the best runs I have ever had; and what a time to have it. We maintained 6th place and got a sweet-ass trophy. What an end to a rough season. Did I mention that the Latvian's were pissed? Well, they were. I don't blame them .
The best part of this chaos is that we came together as a team and stepped up to the plate; then we hit a home run. That is what we need, my crew did everything they could to give me a good start, and they did. All I could do is return the favor.notice the crowd in the background.