Team Cunningham takes four-man bobsled win in USA Bobsled National Team Trials

Oct. 20, 2017, 10:53 a.m. (ET)

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Team Cunningham takes four-man bobsled win in USA Bobsled National Team Trials

Photo: Molly Choma

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Oct. 20, 2017)- Two-time Olympian Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) teamed with Chris Kinney (Stockbridge, Ga.), Ryan Bailey (Salem, Ore.) and Sam Michener (Gresham, Ore.) to win the four-man USA Bobsled National Team Trials race this morning in Lake Placid. The competition concludes the 2017-2018 USA Bobsled & Skeleton National Team Trials, and the men’s bobsled national team is expected to be announced tomorrow.


“The track manager, Tony Carlino, and his crew have been great,” said USA Bobsled Head Coach Brian Shimer. “They’ve had to rebuild the track for us at least three times. Unfortunately, we probably picked the warmest October in Lake Placid history to get on ice this early. The team has been really patient, and they’ve been doing a great job rolling with the punches in an already stressful season. This was a very competitive four-man race, and now it’s time to get our team selected and work on getting better each day as we build towards the Olympics in February.”


Cunningham’s crew capitalized on the fastest start time of the first heat, 5.01 seconds, to take a 0.08 second lead ahead of Codie Bascue’s (Whitehall, N.Y.) team with a run of 55.26. Cunningham paired with Bailey, who ran track in the 2012 Olympics, for third in the two-man race last week. Bailey is looking for his first national team berth as a bobsledder, while Kinney tries for his second and Michener aims for his fourth.


In the second heat, Cunningham’s crew’s 5.00 second start time matched that of Bascue’s team, but the veteran was able to maneuver down the track with the fastest time of the heat, a 55.68, to beat out 23-year-old Bascue. Cunningham’s final combined time was 1:50.94, which edged Bascue by three-tenths of a second.


Cunningham credited his crew for the competitive pushes that spurred them to victory. He also commended Bascue’s team, and said the overall talent pool this year is the best he’s seen in his lengthy career.


“It’s always nice to see a crew come together on race day, especially for team trials,” Cunningham said. “To be there and have a good race and really to see all of the crews, not just mine, push well is great. USA-1, 2 and 3 will all have extremely good pushes this year. We’re going to have three teams that can push five seconds flat and potentially in the 4.90’s, which is something we’ve never had before. It’s a different class of pushers and shows the work they’ve put in over the past quad and into this season. There’s still way more in the tank, I’m still not 100%, but we’re going to take this as a full speed practice race moving forward into World Cup.”


Bascue finished second to Cunningham with a combined time of 1:51.25. Bascue has been piloting bobsleds since he was 8, and is seeking his fourth national team berth. His crew includes three-time national team athlete Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.), former University of Michigan and Rice University football player Sam McGuffie (Cypress, Texas)  and Nate Weber (Pueblo West, Colo.), who is an active duty Special Forces member. Bascue, Valdes, McGuffie and Weber combined forces for start times of 5.02 and 5.00 seconds and finish times of 55.34 and 55.91 seconds, respectively.


Bascue won the two-man USA Bobsled National Team Trials race with Valdes last week by topping Olympic gold medalist Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) and Cunningham to take his fifth consecutive team trials race, dating back to last season.


Due to unseasonably warm weather that forced multiple delays in the race, combined with the timing of selected drivers leaving for international training on the Olympic track in Korea, it was decided that Olsen would continue with his scheduled trip to Korea on Wednesday and miss the four-man race. Olsen finished the 2018 World Cup test event in PyeongChang as the highest U.S. competitor in sixth place, just 0.12 seconds from the medals.


Geoff Gadbois (Milton, Vt.), Nic Taylor (Hayward, Calif.), Brent Fogt (Alpine, Utah) and Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine) were third with a two-run total of 1:51.49 (55.56, 55.93). The crew clocked start times of 5.12 and 5.13 seconds.


Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.) teamed with Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (Powhatan, Va.), Austin Landis (Nashville, Tenn.) and Lou Moreira (Somerville, Mass.) for fourth place with a combined time of 1:51.76. The crew pushed start times of 5.11 and 5.13 for runs of 55.71 and 56.05 seconds, respectively.


The four-man race concludes the 2017-2018 USA Bobsled & Skeleton National Team Trials, and the women’s bobsled and men’s and women’s skeleton teams have already been named. The men’s bobsled national team is set to be named tomorrow, with the time still to be determined.


Results

1. Nick Cunningham, Ryan Bailey, Chris Kinney and Sam Michener 1:50.94 (55.26, 55.68);

2. Codie Bascue, Carlo Valdes, Sam McGuffie and Nate Weber 1:51.25 (55.34, 55.91);

3. Geoff Gadbois, Nic Taylor, Brent Fogt and Frank Del Duca 1:51.49 (55.56, 55.93);

4. Hunter Church, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, Austin Landis and Lou Moreira 1:51.76 (55.71, 56.05);

About USA Bobsled & Skeleton
USA Bobsled & Skeleton (USABS), based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. USABS would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Thorne, Boomerang Carnets, Hudl Technique, Tesa Tape, PVS International, Ferris Mfg. Corp, Stress Engineering, Machintek, deBotech and Carpenter. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at www.usabs.com.

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