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Del Duca and Abdul Saboor 13th in two-man bobsled Olympic race, Church and Volker 27th
YANQING, China (February 15, 2022) – Frank Del Duca (Bethel, Maine) and Hakeem Abdul Saboor (Powhatan, Va.) finished 13th in the two-man bobsled Olympic race at the National Sliding Centre tonight to lead the U.S. team. Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.) and Charlie Volker (Fair Haven, N.J.) finished 27th in their Olympic debuts.
“I liked the energy we brought to the start,” Del Duca said. “We got to do two race heats on two straight days and I thought we had just as much energy on that last one if not more than the first. It felt really good. I felt like Hakeem really had my back and we believed in each other. I can say that we left everything out there and I’m really grateful to be doing this.”
Del Duca and Abdul Saboor came out today prepared to lay it all on the line. The duo powered their sled off the line in 5.06 seconds for the 11th ranked downtime of 59.86 seconds to move up three spots into 12th going into the fourth and final run. Del Duca and Abdul Saboor posted a start time of 5.05 seconds in the finale for a run of 1:00.15, which moved them into 13th with a four-run combined time of 4:00.10.
“Frank did an awesome job,” Abdul Saboor said. “He gave it his all. I gave it my all.”
“This just means a lot. I’m really grateful to be here,” Del Duca said. “We all worked really hard to be here. It’s seven years of bobsledding, but it’s a lifetime of interests and passions that led me to be here. I wasn’t recruited to play college sports and I wasn’t recruited to be here either. I’m one of those people who has an unreasonable amount of passion for things that I do and I ended up being here with a bunch of athletes that are the top echelon and I’m somehow here. And I just love racing so to be doing this is just something else. I gotta take it one day at a time because it’s a lot and I just can’t say enough about how much it means to me.”
It’s an impressive debut for Del Duca. Steven Holcomb was the most successful men’s driver in the U.S. program before he unexpectedly passed away in 2017, and he finished 14th in his two-man bobsled Olympic debut at the 2006 Torino Games. He went on to win three Olympic medals in 2014 and 2018.
Del Duca started out as a brakeman in bobsled, and pushed for Holcomb before switching to the driver’s seat. Del Duca said that Holcomb sent him a text message when he found out that he was attending a driving school, joking that they were now “enemies.”
“We still talk about him all the time,” Del Duca said. “He’s one of the greatest to ever do it, one of the nicest people you’ve ever met. There’s just so much we gained from having him and so much we lost. There’s just so much that comes with someone like Steve. He’s amazing. I think half the times we talk like he’s still here. We want him to be so bad.”
Team Germany swept the medals today. This is the first time in bobsled history that any nation has gone 1-2-3 in an Olympic competition. Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis were awarded gold with a four-run combined time of 3:56.89, winning by 0.49 seconds. They also set new start and track records today with a 4.93 push and a 58.99-second downtime in the third heat.
Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer took silver in 3:57.38. Christoph Hafer and Mattias Sommer completed the sweep with a total time of 3:58.58 for bronze.
Church and Volker were in 28th place overnight, and the Americans moved up a spot into 27th today with a downtime of 1:00.53. Volker helped push Church to a start time of 5.15 seconds, and it was the smoothest of the three runs for Church. Volker and Church missed the top-20 cutoff for the fourth and final run, but the team is already looking ahead to the four-man bobsled competition.
“We had a pretty darn clean run yesterday and today as well,” Volker said. “As the results have shown, this track is pretty unforgiving, but in the four-man we’ve got one of the cleanest pilots in the world so we’re looking forward to that. We can’t wait.”
Church started the season with a setback after dropping a weight plate and breaking his toe just weeks before the international training week on the 2022 Olympic track. He said it felt like it snowballed from there.
“It just felt like every week was just this festering ball of anxiety any time I got in a two-man sled,” Church said. “I was waiting for it to go away. It never did. I’m happy I got through with a clean run today. I get back into my zen tomorrow.”
Tomorrow is the first official training day for the four-man bobsled event, which is considered Church’s specialty.
“I think I was just born to be a four-man pilot,” Church said “My great uncles were four-man pilots, my dad was trained as an Olympic hopeful in the four-man. Maybe it’s just in my DNA. I’ll tell you what, I hate the feeling of being called a four-man guy. There’s nothing more that I want than to be able to do well in both disciplines. So regardless, I know this was my recon mission, this two-man week to get ready for next week, but anytime you step up to a line in competition, there’s no such thing as ‘I’m just here to get trips.’ It hurt to perform this poorly but I think I did gain some value from it.”
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1. Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis (GER) 3:56.89 (59.02, 59.36, 58.99, 59.52);
2. Johannes Lochner and Florian Bauer (GER) 3:57.38 (59.26, 59.27, 59.32, 59.53);
3. Christoph Hofer and Matthias Sommer (GER) 3:58.58 (59.44, 59.93, 59.51, 59.70);
13. Frank Del Duca and Hakeem Abdul Saboor (USA) 4:00.10 (59.87, 1:00.22, 59.86, 1:00.15);
27. Hunter Church and Charlie Volker (USA) 3:02.31 (1:00.38, 1:01.40, 1:00.53, DNS)
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. For more information, please visit the USABS website at www.usabs.com. Individuals interested in becoming a bobsled or skeleton athlete can visit www.usabobsledskeleton.com.