Bobsled driver Steven Holcomb just missed sweeping the weekend World Cup races in Austria, finishing second in the four-man event in Igls on Sunday and officially being named to the U.S. Olympic Team for the upcoming Sochi Olympics in Russia.
"We’ve now won nine medals this season and this is the first one that’s not gold," Holcomb said. "Of course, we were bummed not to win because we had gold within reach, but we’re still happy to win a medal."
Track athletes Williams, Jones make bobsled team
Lauryn Williams and Lolo Jones have been selected for the U.S. bobsled team that will compete in next month’s Sochi Olympics. Williams is a three-time summer Olympian who helped the U.S. win a gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the London Games. Jones is a two-time veteran of the summer games in the 100-meter hurdles, missing out on gold in Beijing after a late stumble.
Alpine’s Chris Fogt also made the Olympic team, as a push athlete for Holcomb’s new "Night Train 2" sled. Fogt also could push Holcomb in the two-man sled.
Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis and his crew won the four-man race for the second straight week to emerge as serious contenders in Sochi, after having failed to even reach the podium in the season’s first five races.
Melbardis won in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 42.22 seconds — 0.11 seconds ahead of Holcomb, the reigning four-man Olympic champion from Park City who won the two-man race on Saturday.
The Latvians won largely because of a vastly superior push start, clocking just 4.94 seconds on each of their two runs.
Holcomb and his crew were the only other team to push under 5 seconds; they clocked 4.98 on their second run. But the difference between the push starts of the top two teams was exactly the margin of victory, illustrating the importance of that part of the race.
Still, Holcomb was encouraged by a weekend on which he snapped a four-year losing streak in Europe — he hadn’t won a two-man race there in nearly seven years — as well as a five-race streak of failing to even reach the podium after winning the first seven races of the season, all in North America.
"We wanted to be in the top five standings and we’re sitting in the top five," said Holcomb, who ranks third in the overall four-man World Cup standings. "That allows us to play with things and make little changes to see if we can make things go even faster. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It may seem like we’ve slipped, but it’s to the contrary — we’re on our way up."
The final World Cup stop of the season is next weekend in Konigssee, Germany. The Olympics begin Feb. 7, with the bobsled competition starting Feb. 16.
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