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Holcomb caps weekend with silver

December 19, 2016
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Veteran pilot Steve Holcomb wrapped up a solid weekend for United States sliders Saturday, taking the silver medal in the four-man competition in the final event of the BMW IBSF Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup on the Mount Van Hoevenberg run in Lake Placid.

It marked the first time since before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that the Americans medaled in World Cup four-man bobsledding, and Holcomb got the job done in new BMW bobsled that had just made its competitive debut the week before in Whistler, British Columbia. After finishing fourth in Canada just four-hundredths of a second out of the medals, Holcomb and his crew were able to make the jump up to the podium on home ice on a track where the Park City, Utah native has easily more experience that any other driver in the competition.

The Swiss sled piloted by Rico Peter took gold in the race with a winning two-heat total of 1 minute, 48.31 seconds, Holcomb and his crew of Carlo Valdes, James Reed and Sam McGuffie were runner-up .39 back, and Canada's Chris Spring took the bronze just one-hundredth of a second behind Holcomb.

Article Photos

United States driver Steven Holcomb and crew members Carlo Valdes, James Reed and Sam McGuffie slide through the 14th curve on the track at Mount Van Hoevenberg during Saturday’s four-man World Cup race in Lake Placid. Holcomb left the track with a pair of medals after claiming silver Saturday and winning Friday’s two-man competition.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Whitehall native Codie Bascue, who grew up sliding at Mount Van Hoevenberg in the pee-wee bobsled program, was just .05 off the podium, finishing fourth with a 1:48.76 combined time. Bascue and his crew of Frank Deluca, Adrian Adams and Sam Michener were in third place after the opening run but couldn't duplicate the feat on their second trip in the incredibly close competition.

The top eight finishing sleds were all within less than two-tenths of a second after the opening run, with Rico and his crew of Jane Bror van der Zijde, Simon Friedli and Thomas Amrhein setting the pace with an opening run of 54.11 seconds. They clinched the win, again by putting down the fastest run in the next heat to medal for the second time in as many four-man races. Rico drove to silver in Whistler.

Following bronze-medal performances in both two- and four-man at the Sochi Winter Olympics nearly three years ago, Holcomb has struggled with injuries, and at the same time, the U.S. men have been breaking in a whole new crew of push athletes. But after winning the gold in Friday's two-man, and then adding a runner-up result Saturday to a fourth-place four-man showing in Whistler, Holcomb said things are looking up with the next Olympics in South Korea not far in the future.

"When I show up and I'm actually in shape and pushing well and fast... it motivates them a little bit," Holcomb said of his crew. "They can see the results already are starting to pay off. They're starting to get confident, starting to get a little taste of what it's like to be at the top, and once you get a little taste of it, it starts to snowball and you step up your game a little bit.

"It was a great race today," Holcomb continued. "The conditions were fast. You saw three crashes, and that was tough. It was close all the way down to the last few sleds, and Rico Peter took it at the end. It was really cool to see Cody come down in third place. He had a couple of mistakes in the second run but he's fourth place. That's really good to see him coming around and step up to the challenge. He's a young kids, and there's really a lot of grown men around here that are hard to beat."

"A career best in four-man by five spots, so that's huge" Bascue said. "Four-hundredths out of first after the first run, and I was really hoping to jump up there and do a little better, but you can't go wrong with fourth-place finish. We didn't have as good a push the second time, the run was a little better, but that's how it goes in racing. Right now, not getting on the podium is disappointing, but at the end of the day, I'm probably going to look back and it's a huge PR finish for me, and that's something to build on and be happy about."

The Swiss knew they were taking a strong team to North America for the first two stops of this season's World Cup tour, but their results turned out better than expected as Peter drove two silvers in Whistler and the gold in Lake Placid.

"We knew we had a chance, but you first have to do it," said van der Zijde, who was on Peter's crew in both four-man races. "In Whistler we were really close with a second place. The drive there was quite bumpy. Here, we invested a lot of time in the track to look for the right lines. Lake Placid is a little bit of a pilot's track, so we knew we could do good, but to win - we didn't expect that. It was a amazing. Right now, we're ranked first in combined in two-man and four-man. We're over the moon."

The Americans had two more sleds in Saturday's race. Competing as a driver on the World Cup tour for the first time this season, Justin Olsen piloted his crew of Austin Landis, Luis Moreira and Evan Weinstock to a 12th-place result with a 1:49.71 combined time, which was 1.40 seconds behind Holcomb's winning total. Also, Elana Meyers Taylor, the only women driver in the race, finished 13th for the U.S. with a crew of Alex Harrison, Nicholas Taylor and Hakeem Abdul-Saboor.

Saturday's action in Lake Placid kicked off with the women's skeleton race, which was won by Austria's Janine Flock with a two-heat combined time of 1:49.77. Defending Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain was second, and Mirela Rahneva of Canada placed third.

Annie O'Shea, who won the women's World Cup skeleton race here a season ago, had the top finish among the three U.S. sliders competing. She placed sixth in 1:51.20. Also for the U.S., Kendall Wesenberg was 13th and Savannah Graybill placed 15th. The women's race featured a field of 25 entries.

The Americans finished this season's World Cup competition in Lake Placid with four medals.

The BMW IBSF Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup tour will resume after the holiday's in Altenberg, Germany.



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