Holcomb wins 4-man gold at bobsled worlds

JOHN KEKIS AP Sports Writer Published:

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- Steven Holcomb of the United States won the four-man gold medal at the bobsled world championships Sunday, easily beating two German sleds.

Holcomb and his crew of Justin Olsen, Steve Langton and Curt Tomasevicz had a four-run total of 3 minutes, 36.83 seconds at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

Germany's Maximilian Arndt was the silver medalist, a half-second behind Defending world champion Manuel Machata of Germany took the bronze, trailing Holcomb by 0.80.

This was the second gold in four-man at worlds for Holcomb, following his victory at Lake Placid in 2009. Holcomb also won the two-man at the worlds a week ago, something no other American bobsledder had accomplished since two-man began in 1931.

Holcomb also joined German greats Andre Lange and Christoph Langen as the most recent pilots to complete a sweep at worlds. Langen won the two-man and four-man in 2001 and Lange in 2003 and 2008.

Nick Cunningham and his team of Jesse Beckom, Johnny Quinn and brakeman Dallas Robinson finished 13th in USA-3, nearly 3 seconds behind their teammates. John Napier was disqualified Saturday after push athlete Adam Clark slipped and fell out of USA-2 at the start.

The U.S. finished with a good haul at these worlds, an encouraging sign midway to the next Winter Olympics in Sochi: Holcomb's two golds, a gold in the team event, Katie Uhlaender's gold in women's skeleton and a bronze won by Elana Meyers in women's bobsled.

Holcomb, who turns 32 in April, has been driving for a decade and is compiling a resume that's as impressive as that of any driver in U.S. history.

Three years ago he broke a 50-year gold-medal drought for America in four-man competition at world championships, winning on his home track at Mount Van Hoevenberg. He also took home the bronze in two-man. Two years ago, he won the first four-man Olympic gold for his country since 1948.

On Saturday, Holcomb trailed Arndt by 0.15 seconds after a mistake-filled first run, but he made up the deficit with the help of his second straight 4.97-second start, the best starts of the day. That put USA-1 just 0.01 ahead heading to Sunday's final two heats.

It was below zero at dawn Sunday with the sun shining brightly over the Adirondack Mountains, perfect weather to decide the title.

Holcomb slid first and took his sled dubbed "Night Train" for a near-flawless ride after a push of 4.94 seconds, the best time in all four heats. The crowd at the start roared ias Holcomb zoomed through the tricky curve near the bottom of the 20-curve layout. He finished in 53.92 seconds, giving a thumbs-up as he climbed from the sled after what would be the fastest run of the four-heat race.

That put the pressure on the Germans, and they were unable to match it.

Arndt, who won bronze last week in two-man, and his crew of Alexander Roediger, Kevin Kuske and Martin Putze slid second. They brushed a wall at the top, nearly flipping, and trailed by 0.05 as they were just getting started. The momentum that was lost at the top began to show on the clock, the sled finishing in 54.12 to fall 0.21 behind.

Machata fared even worse. Trailing Holcomb by 0.28 to start the day, he lost 0.11 at the top on a sloppy third run, was nearly a half-second behind midway down and finished in 54.25 to fall 0.61 behind.

Even World Cup champion Alexsandr Zubkov of Russia was no match. He was fourth entering Sunday's heats, 0.43 behind, dropped a third of a second on the third run and finished 1.28 seconds behind in fifth. He was passed on the final run by Edwin Van Calker of the Netherlands.

Between heats on Sunday, Holcomb did what he always does, letting the world know what was on his mind: "Solid first run. Need to relax, stay focused and do it one more time. Let's bring it home!" he tweeted.

He did just that with a 4.95-second push and a run of 53.99 seconds. USA-1 was the only sled to go under 54 seconds in the two days of competition.