PARK CITY, Utah – It was déjà vu as men’s bobsled pilots Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) finished 1-2 again in the two-man World Cup race this afternoon. Holcomb and Butner were the top two competitors in last week’s season opener, and repeated their medal performances at the Utah Olympic Park with teammates Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) and Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.).
“I’m pretty excited to win the first two races,” Holcomb said. “It’s the first time I’ve won two consecutive two-man races in a long time, if at all, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Holcomb and his Olympic brakeman, Tomasevicz, were in the hunt for gold immediately off the block. The duo blasted off with a start time of 4.85 seconds, and was 0.07 seconds from the medals after clocking 48.75 at the finish for fourth position.
Holcomb and Tomasevicz matched their first run start time and negotiated to the finish in 48.65 seconds. The duo stood in the leader’s box and watched anxiously as the final three sleds descended the course.
“Winning at home is always great,” Holcomb said. “I’m comfortable here. I’ve lived here my entire life, so this is what I know… I went to high school right here in this little valley. This is awesome.”
John James Jackson from Great Britain made some mistakes at the top that multiplied down the course, and the crew fell into ninth place. Lyndon Rush had the lead, but an early entrance into corner 13 flipped the sled over and the Canadians slid across the finish on their sides and fell into 20th place. Finally, Oskars Melbardis from Latvia, who was the leader after the first run, made a critical error that dropped the team into fourth.
Holcomb and Tomasevicz celebrated as their combined time of 1:37.40 held up the competition to earn gold. The veteran duo was immediately congratulated by teammates Butner and Berkeley, who accompanied them on the medal stand.
Butner and Berkeley powered the Autism Speaks sled to a push time of 4.92 seconds in both heats. Butner made some rookie driving errors in the first run that put the team in ninth position.
“Not getting frustrated [is the most challenging part of learning to drive],” Butner said. “Once a run is done, you’ve got to let it go. You have to go back and fix the problems.”
Butner was able to do just that. The duo hoped to crack into the top six, and Butner strung together a near perfect run of 48.58 seconds to trump even Holcomb’s final run time. USA-2 clocked a total time of 1:37.43 to move up seven spots to claim silver, and were a mere 0.03 seconds behind their teammates.
“There’s good and bad days,” Butner said. “I’d like to put two runs together like our second one. I’m making mistakes as a driver. It’s going to happen, but I’m learning everyday still.”
Francesco Friedrich and Gino Gerhardi from Germany trailed USA-1 by 0.10 seconds with a two-run total of 1:37.50 for bronze.
Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.) partnered in the National Guard sled for 15th place. Cunningham led the crew to 20th in the first heat, but posted the eighth best run in the final to move into 15th with a combined time of 1:38.00.
“It felt like we hit all of our marks, but time just wasn’t behind us on that one,” Cunningham said. “We tried to weasel in there for that 20th spot on the first run and we got it, so I’m pretty happy. I’m still kind of breaking into World Cup and I realize these are the best competitors in the world, and to be competitive with these guys is great. Hopefully we can keep our momentum going in North America and over into Europe.”
The women’s bobsled World Cup race is scheduled for 5 p.m. tonight, and the final run will be broadcast live on Universal Sports.
1. Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz (USA) 1:37.40 (48.75, 48.65); 2. Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:37.43 (48.85, 48.58); 3. Franesco Friedrich and Gino Gerhardi (GER) 1:37.50 (48.78, 48.72);…15. Nick Cunningham and Adam Clark (USA) 1:38.00 (49.18, 48.82);