U.S.'s Holcomb ready to dominate another bobsled season
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- It has been just over eight months since Steven Holcomb dominated the bobsled world championships. The American is ready to begin a new chapter in his remarkable career as the World Cup season begins on his home track at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
"The expectations are pretty high since we won here last February, but it's not something that I really think about or dwell on," the 32-year-old Holcomb said Wednesday after training. "We're still strong, and I have total confidence in my team going into this year. We're excited to start the competitive season now, and it's especially nice starting out on our home track. There's a level of comfort here. It really is home."
Holcomb, of Park City, Utah, won gold in both the two-man and four-man at the world championships and easily was the class of the field in four-man. Holcomb and his crew of Justin Olsen, Steve Langton and Curt Tomasevicz beat Germany's Maximilian Arndt by a half-second, while defending world champion Manuel Machata of Germany took the bronze, eight-tenths of a second behind Holcomb's "Night Train" bobsled.
Holcomb's triumph with Langton in two-man was a first for the United States at worlds since two-man began in 1931, and his string of success has been impressive.
Three years ago, Holcomb broke a 50-year gold-medal drought for America in four-man competition at world championships and took home the bronze in two-man. Two years ago, he won the first four-man Olympic gold for the United States since 1948, and he has 15 individual World Cup medals.
Pilots Nick Cunningham and Cory Butner join Holcomb on the men's side.
Elana Meyers will team with Olympic gold medal sprinter Tianna Madison in women's bobsled. Jamie Greubel and rookie Aja Evans shattered the Lake Placid track start record in team selection and figure to be in the mix, while Jazmine Fenlator and Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, of Des Moines, Iowa, will be in a third sled. Fenlator and Jones had strong results together in the first national seeding race.
The U.S. team concluded last season with five medals at the world championships in Lake Placid, four of them gold. Besides Holcomb's haul, Katie Uhlaender won gold in women's skeleton, the U.S. won gold in the team event, and Meyers took the bronze in women's bobsled.
The World Cup skeleton season also kicks off at Mount Van Hoevenberg beginning Thursday with the first two heats for both the men and women. Skeleton concludes Friday with the final runs of the three-heat races, while women's bobsled and the men's two-man race also will be staged. The four-man race is Saturday.
Uhlaender, who earned an automatic spot on the U.S. team because of her triumph at worlds, will be joined by Kimber Gabryszak. The U.S. men's skeleton team includes Matt Antoine, John Daly and Kyle Tress.
Former world champion Noelle Pikus-Pace, who came out of retirement, was named to the team last week after dominating all four selection races. Pikus-Pace began the season on Wednesday on the North American Cup circuit at the Olympic track in Park City, Utah and again was the class of the field. She beat Melissa Hoar of Australia by 1.29 seconds, with Savannah Graybill of the United State third among 17 sleds.
Pikus-Pace will head to Calgary for the second leg of North American Cup races. After that, she'll be qualified to compete in World Cup and likely will compete at Whistler with a goal of qualifying a third sled for worlds.