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Published: Sunday, 2/28/2010

U.S. wins first bobsled title in 62 years

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WHISTLER, B.C. - With one more perfect run down sliding's most intense track, Steven Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding yesterday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.

It was the first gold medal for the U.S. in sliding's signature race since Francis Tyler won one for the Americans at St. Moritz in 1948.

Holcomb's four-run time was 3 minutes, 24.46 seconds, with Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler, and Curt Tomasevicz pushing for him again - just as they did in winning the world championship a year ago.

"This is bigger," U.S. coach Brian Shimer said.

There might not be any comparison whatsoever.

German Andre Lange, who failed to win a gold medal for the first time in five Olympic events, had a nearly perfect final run to win the silver in his final race. Lange finished 0.38 seconds behind Holcomb and his team.

Lyndon Rush drove Canada-1 to the bronze.

Holcomb and his sledmates crossed the finish line one more time and threw their arms in the air before wrapping each other in American flags. Holcomb hoisted his helmet high as family and friends craned for photographs, and a party that the U.S. program had been waiting 62 years for was finally getting started.

"It's huge," said USA-3 driver Mike Kohn, who finished 13th. "This is a great moment. It's hopefully going to change the program and bring some publicity and some funding to this sport, just like it did in '02 when we won silver and bronze."

Kohn was a push athlete for Shimer's sled at those 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, when Todd Hays drove to silver and Shimer got the Americans a bronze.

The U.S. had never been closer to being kings of the bobsled mountain - until now.

Minutes after it was over, Tomasevicz pulled off Holcomb's hat, planting a smooch on his pilot's bald, sweaty head.

Sealed with a kiss, it was, and then the four men stood atop the podium for the flower ceremony at trackside - medals come later Saturday night - and did what's known as the "Holcy Dance," the little shuffle step that Holcomb does to keep his team laughing.

From there, Holcomb hugged anyone he could wrap his giant arms around, and Mesler hopped the wall of the bleachers to celebrate with his family.

Bode Miller wasn't able to add anything beyond the gold, silver, and bronze he'd already won. He bailed out just a few gates into the slalom, a casualty of "grabby" snow that bedeviled a slew of skiers.

Miller is one of only five men to get three Alpine medals at a games, a record performance for a U.S. skier. His five career Olympic medals are tied for second on the career list behind Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has eight.

"I really couldn't be much happier," Miller said. "I came out, I was ready, I was prepared - that's all the stuff you can do."

Giuliano Razzoli won, giving Italy its first Alpine medal in the Winter Games in 16 years.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia picked up his second silver in Vancouver, while Austria's usually powerful men's team finished an Olympic shutout.

Canada's Jasey-Jay Anderson, a seven-time World Cup champion, carved through the rain-sluiced, fogged-in course to take down Austria's Benjamin Karl, the top-ranked rider in the world and win the gold in men's parallel giant slalom.

It was his first Olympic medal in four tries, adding it to his four world championship golds and a career that has done more than anyone's to spread the word of snowboarding across his wintry country.

Canada turned in its four cross-country skiers for the 50-kilometer mass start classic race on Sunday, and it doesn't include legally blind Brian McKeever, who was hoping to become the first competitor in both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The 30-year-old McKeever - who started going blind in college because of a degenerative disease, but still has peripheral vision - said he understands the decision.

"Olympic dream over," he wrote on his Twitter account. "I don't think I've ever been so sad."

In the women's 30k classical race, Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk beat Bjoergen in a photo finish. Kowalczyk, the World Cup leader, now has a medal of each color.

Canada has won the gold medal in men's curling, with Kevin Martin's team defeating a Norwegian squad that charmed the Olympics with its flamboyant pants.

The 6-3 victory gave Canada its 13th gold medal, matching the mark for the most by any nation at a Winter Olympics.

The Canadians added another thrilling finish to their remarkable second-half medal haul at home that lifted the nation to the top of the gold standings.

Switzerland swept past Sweden for the men's bronze medal, getting two points on its final rock.



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