Holcomb’s teams now are Sochi silver medalists
MIAMI — Steven Holcomb is now a winner of two silver bobsled medals for the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a determination that has been made more than five years after those games ended and nearly two years after his death.
The International Olympic Committee’s executive board reallocated the medals from the Sochi Games in bobsledding after vacating the golds that Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov won in both the two- and four-man events. That means Holcomb, who crossed the line third in both of those races, now is a two-time silver winner in addition to the four-man gold he won at Vancouver in 2010.
The IOC informed the U.S. Olympic Committee of its decision, and the USOC made the announcement Wednesday. Zubkov was stripped of the medals in November 2017 as part of the ongoing fallout from the sanctions levied against Russia after a probe into state-sponsored doping at those Sochi Olympics, though the IOC had not decided to reallocate them until now.
“It’s long overdue,” USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said. “It doesn’t make up for missing out on that moment at the games, but it’s still the right thing to do by the IOC.”
Holcomb’s family has not yet received the new medals, and it’s unclear when that will happen.
But at least, finally, it’s official.
With the new order of finish, the four-man silver goes to Holcomb and his team of Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt. The two-man silver goes to Holcomb and Langton.
“This result appropriately bolsters Holcomb’s legacy as one of the very best athletes to ever drive a bobsled,” his three Sochi sledmates said in a statement. “Being the fierce competitor and advocate for clean sport that that he was, he would be smiling knowing that we’re one step closer to a fair playing field. As a team, it means a lot to have our efforts, sacrifice and hard work appropriately vindicated.
“That being said, this is a win not just for Team Holcomb but for all athletes who continue to do the right thing.”
Holcomb — a three-time Olympian and five-time world champion — was 37 when he died at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York on May 6, 2017. He was still the best driver on the team, the leader of the U.S. team and would have been a lock for a fourth and presumably last Olympic berth at the Pyeongchang Games last year.
Holcomb’s family and teammates will not keep the bronze medals, and there is no plan yet for when or how they will receive the silver ones. Holcomb’s estate and his teammates are also expected to be in line for additional money from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which pays bonuses for various medal finishes.
“We are so proud of Steven and all that he accomplished, both on and off the ice,” said Holcomb’s mother, Jean Schaefer. “We are happy that he and his teammates are to be recognized as the silver medalists, their rightful place. While we wish Steven could accept his silver medals alongside his teammates, our family is honored to accept them on his behalf.”
The Latvian sled driven by Oskars Melbardis is now officially the gold medalist in four-man from Sochi, followed by Holcomb’s team and the British sled driven by John Jackson — who said on Twitter that he had not been officially told of any change to his status. In two-man, Switzerland’s team of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann wins gold, followed by Holcomb and Langton and the Latvian sled of Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens.
All three sliding sports — bobsled and skeleton in particular — were affected by the Russian doping scandal in Sochi. Zubkov has maintained his innocence throughout the many probes.
Steele said if Holcomb were still alive, he would have declared Wednesday’s news as justice being served.
“I think he’d care because those silvers were earned and it’s the right thing to do,” Steele said. “If this is the correct outcome based on the rules of the game we’ve got to honor that. It hadn’t been corrected. It needed to be. Holcomb would never want something he didn’t earn. But if they earned those silver medals, let’s give them to them.”