LAKE PLACID - If Steven Holcomb finds the same type of success with a brand-new sled that he did piloting his Night Train, the United States could be in a good position to defend its Olympic four-man bobsledding title.
With the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games less than a year away, the Night Train 2 took its first trip on ice Tuesday at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
By all indications, the run was an incredible success. Along with usual crew members Steve Langton, Justin Olsen and Curtis Tomasevicz, Holcomb drove the Night Train 2 from the top of the mile-long track just after he took two trips in the original Night Train.
USA I driver Steven Holcomb and his crew of Steve Langton, Justin Olsen and Curtis Tomasevicz push the Night Train 2 down the start ramp at Mount Van Hoevenberg Tuesday afternoon on the inaugural run of the brand-new four-man bobsled built by the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
The Night Train, left, and the Night Train 2 sit side-by-side at the top of Mount Van Hoevenberg’s track Tuesday afternoon. Pictured with the sled from the left are Jim “Cheech” Garde, Justin Olsen, Bob Cuneo, Geoff Bodine, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
On hand for the first day of testing was auto racing great Geoff Bodine, founder of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, sled designer Bob Cuneo and Jim "Cheech" Garde, who owns the shop in Concord, N.C. where the sled was built.
Tuesday's inaugural run marked the beginning of testing for the new sled, and Holcomb took three trips down the track. Holcomb, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist and two-time four-man world champion from Park City, Utah started the day with two runs in the original Night Train, and followed with one trip in the Night Train 2.
As it turned out, Holcomb and his team were about three-tenths of a second faster in their new sled, although they did get a quicker push time at the top of the run.
"We're thrilled, we're ecstatic," Cuneo said. "That was the best first run you could possibly ask for. What really impressed was the tremendous amount of confidence from the athletes. Usually with a new sled, they'd sit at start three on a first run. They gave it a pretty good push. It was as fast on the first run as the original Night Train."
"The new sled has some technology we're not used to, so on the first run down you've really got to be on your toes and pay real close attention to what's going on and see how the sled's reacting," Holcomb said. "I think it was a good test, a good first run. We were fast and I'm looking forward to making some tweaks for tomorrow and run it. I think we're on to something good."
One of the biggest differences between the two sleds is the Night Train 2 has a greater amount of carbon fiber in it's hull, or cowling. Cuneo said that since it looked so good, the Night Train 2 was left unpainted. There were some decals affixed to the sled's body, including one that said Night Train 2 and another that read Team Holcomb.
The original Night Train was constructed to be at its best on the 2010 Olympic track at Whistler, and the Night Train 2 was built to be fast on the new Russian track where the 2014 Olympic bobsledding will take place.
"The original Night Train was build with Whistler in mind," Cuneo said. "This sled (the Night Train 2) was built to run fast on any track, but with Sochi in mind. Every year, we learn new technologies. We mixed it all up and made a new sled."
Testing on the Night Train 2 is expected to continue through this week at Mount Van Hoevenberg.