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Experience propels Holcomb to victory

December 16, 2016
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A year ago when Steve Holcomb was struggling with his bobsled results - partially due to an injury and also because he was working with a slew of new push athletes - Lake Placid turned out to be the perfect place to end a slump with a victory in the two-man World Cup race.

Fast forward a year later at the same location, a healthier Holcomb and a more experienced crew may just be starting to do what they expect to accomplish - winning races.

Competing on home ice, Holcomb put down the two fastest runs of the day to take the gold medal in Friday's BMW IBSF World Cup two-man competition at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Joined by brakeman Sam McGuffie, a former running back for the University of Michigan football team, Holcomb turned in runs of 54.66 and 54.81 seconds to win for the sixth time in the last seven two-man international competitions held on the track.

Article Photos

Veteran United States driver Steve Holcomb and brakeman Sam McGuffie slide through the final curve on the track at Mount Van Hoevenberg during their second run Friday.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Holcomb finished with a first-place 1:49.47 combined time, with Canadian drivers Justin Kripps and Chris Spring grabbing second and third, respectively.

"I injured my quad just over a year ago, but for the most part I'm feeling pretty good," Holcomb said. "I don't think I'll be setting any start records any time soon, but as long my guys do what they do the best and push hard, we'll stay in the mix and hopefully my experience will take over. Everything is coming together. After Sochi, all the pushers retired so we had a whole new entire class of pushers. Being the third year, all these guys are really starting to understand how everything works, what it takes to get to this level, how to get off the hill fast, how to get in the sled quickly, even all the blue collar work off the hill maintaining the sleds - making sure that when we show up at the hill we're 100 percent ready to go.

"They're really starting to figure it out and starting to come around," he continued. "I think you're going to start to see that our results are going to be much, much better than they have the last couple of years. It's pretty motivating, pretty exciting to see. It's hard to say how our runs were today. The cold temperatures made the ice really hard, pretty slippery, and everybody was struggling - making mistakes all over the place. Fortunately, I've been down this track more than anybody. Nineteen years of being a bobsledder, more experience than anybody out here, I think that showed a little bit."

The U.S. had two more sleds in Friday's event. Justin Olsen, who was a member of Holcomb's crew that won the four-man gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, is a first-year driver on the World Cup circuit and finished eighth. Olsen, along with brakeman Evan Weinstock, stood in second after completing the first run in 54.79, but made some mistakes in the second heat to fall back. The pair finished with a 1:50.08 total, which was .61 seconds behind Holcomb.

"I messed up before 1, I came out of 3 and I believe my nose was down, and you want to get height there," Olsen said. "I knew it was going to be tough. You can't afford to make mistakes where you're going against these guys. They are so good. But that same thing happened to me in training so I wasn't surprised. It was just unfortunate. Acknowledge that it happened and move forward. I was frustrated but I'm really happy. The driving is going really well. I'm showing glimpses of being really good. I was only .13 off of Holcomb on that first run. I love competing against these guys. I know that Steve's never going to let up and neither am I. That's why our program is going to get better."

The top 11 entries all finished within a second of the top time.

Codie Bascue drove to a 10th-place finish for the U.S. in 1:50.15 with Adrian Adams on the brakes.

The U.S. men will be back in action today racing four-man sleds in the final event of this season's Lake Placid stop on the World Cup tour.



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