WINTERBERG, Germany - Over a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday, the most accomplished bobsleds in United States history, designed and built by the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., endured a difficult return to World Cup action.
In training runs earlier this week U.S. pilot Nick Cunningham, now on the D-rings of the Night Train four-man sled that teammate Steve Holcomb drove to an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver, rolled over as he headed down the Winterberg, Germany track in preparation for this weekend's pair of World Cup four-man races.
"I made a small mistake in curve nine and it cost us," said Cunningham.
He went up and completed a second run with no issue. These were just the fourth and fifth trips ever for Cunningham with the Night Train. He had one practice run three weeks ago in Lake Placid and two heats of racing before the sled went to Europe. He is only the second person to ever drive the original Night Train. Sled and crew came away unscathed and have not missed a beat in training.
It was a similar story the next day for Holcomb in the new Night Train 2, which has won three straight four-man races. In the Olympic champion's first training run on the Hochsauerland course this week, he also crashed in curve nine. The sled came back on its runners by curve 13.
"Don't mistake my crash as weakness," posted Holcomb on his Facebook page. "On the contrary, it shows the commitment, courage, and determination my team has to win. In order to get better and go faster than you ever have before, you must step outside your comfort zone, try things you've never tried, do things you've never done, and see just how far you can push your limits. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, you get back in the sled and go again."
His teammates came through the mishap fine, but the sled that has won all three of its World Cup starts this season suffered some damage. Nevertheless Holcomb completed another training run without incident.
"The NT 2 has some damage but it should not affect it for the weekend," said Bo-Dyn Project mechanic Jim "Cheech" Garde. "To have both sleds crash within 24 hours of each other in the same curve when neither sled has ever crashed is a little weird. Maybe it adds to the mystique of the brand."
That brand has achieved six Olympic medals two of them gold since 2002.