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USA-1 sled finishes just off podium

November 28, 2011
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

KOENIGSSEE, Germany - Steven Holcomb is starting to think 0.03 is his unlucky number. Holcomb and his USA-1 four-man bobsled crew of Steve Langton, Justin Olsen and Curt Tomasevicz finished just 0.03 seconds from the medals for fourth place Sunday in the final Europa Cup race of the Koenigssee event.

"I made the same mistake in my first run today that I made during worlds here," Holcomb said. "It's still haunting me."

Holcomb and the four-curve combination called the "snake pit" haven't always gotten along. Holcomb battled the tricky course combination last February during 2011 World Championships before nailing it on his fourth and final run to earn bronze. Frustrated, Holcomb tried to shrug it off and said, "I guess that's bobsledding, but it doesn't mean I like it."

Article Photos

American bobsledders Steven Holcomb, right, and teammate Justin Olsen, shown here in 2010 following a training run for the Vancouver Olympics, finished fourth Sunday in Germany.
(AP file photo — Ricardo Mazalan)

Holcomb was just shy of the medals in Friday's two-man event by 0.03 seconds, which means they missed bronze by the distance of a fingernail. Team USA-1 was again just shy of bronze by 0.03 seconds Sunday after clocking a two-run total of 1:39.21 for fourth place.

Holcomb, Langton, Olsen and Tomasevicz lived up to their reputation as the fastest push team on circuit by posting the best starts of the competition, 4.85 and 4.83 seconds.

"These guys once again helped push us to the fastest starts of the race," Holcomb said. "Unfortunately, I still need to hold up to my end of the bargain and drive well. I didn't panic and was able to recover in the second run, but let's get these podium misses out of the way now."

Holcomb's mistake in the "snake pit" put the team in ninth position after the first run. Undeterred, the crew powered the BMW sled off the block en route to posting a finish time of 49.38 seconds, fastest of any competitor in both heats. Their second run was good enough to move the team up five spots into fourth.

"This was a good warm-up," Holcomb said. "It's going to make the next few weeks somewhat easier knowing that we've already competed on some of the European tracks this season. Going into the World Cup season without any time spent on these tracks makes it hard to get the rust off after a long off-season."

The Latvians had a strong showing Sunday by claiming gold and bronze. Edgar Maskalans' third and second fastest runs of the day were good enough to land him in the lead by 0.19 seconds with a total time of 1:38.95. Edwin van Calker secured silver for the Netherlands with a two-run total of 1:39.14. Oskars Melbardis was in the lead after the first heat, but the Latvian crew dropped into third after clocking 1:39.18.

Led by Lake Placid's John Napier, Team USA-2 finished 13th after posting two identical runs of 49.85 seconds for a combined time of 1:39.70. He was joined by Chris Fogt, Jesse Beckom and Johnny Quinn.

The U.S. team will return to Igls, Austria to prepare for the first day of World Cup training. Racing in Igls kicks off Friday with women's bobsled and skeleton.

"We normally show up in Europe and have one day to acclimate before tour starts," Holcomb said. "It's nice to already be used to traveling and over the jet lag. But, it's a double edge sword. The European teams get to spend a night in their own bed to refresh before World Cup racing, while we're driving a truck to our next hotel. It's tough, but it's the lifestyle I chose and I kind of enjoy it now."



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