We're going to come out tomorrow and throw down two runs as fast as we can and hopefully be the best. —Steve Holcomb
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Park City’s Steve Holcomb is knocking on the door of history once again.
The man who ended the 48-year gold medal drought for the United States in four-man bobsled at Vancouver is poised to end a 62-year gold medal drought in two-man at Sochi.
While the rest of the world discusses his history-making potential, he just wants to focus on navigating the technically challenging track at the Sanki Sliding Center.
"It's not something we really think about," Holcomb said. "It's kind of like Vancouver. We still have a job to do and we still have to do it well. We're going to come out tomorrow and throw down two runs as fast as we can and hopefully be the best."
Holcomb and brakeman Steve Langton are in third place after two runs with a combined time of 1:53.18. They trail Russian legend Alexander Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda (1:52.82) and Swiss pilot Beat Hefti and brakeman Alex Baumann (1:53.14).
"I said coming into this that it's going to be a good race and I knew the home team was going to be hard to beat," Holcomb said. "It's going to be a battle to the end. Everything is going well for us though. We had two great pushes. Steve was on fire today, I drove well, and the sled is running fast. We just need to do it again tomorrow."
Holcomb and Langton had the third- and seventh-fastest push times, which is where they need to be if they want to medal on Monday night.
"Top three or four at the finish was exactly where we wanted to be," Langton said. "I'm content with the pushes and hopefully tomorrow we can come out and put it all together."
For one run it looked like two Utahns might be in medal contention as Alpine’s Chris Fogt teamed up with pilot Cory Butner to sit in third place after one run.
But a driving error in one of the two uphill sections on their second run cost them their top-three position. They are now in 11th place with a two-run time of 1:53.64.
They are, however, just 0.38 off of USA-1’s pace and they could still pull off an upset.
"You mess up one thing and it just compounds down the track," Butner said. "It is guesswork. I tried to fix a mistake and then it made it worse. I feel good, and we're not out of the game yet. We're going to come into this tomorrow to throw down and do what we can to get ourselves back in medal position."
For brakeman Langton and Fogt, finishing both runs Sunday was a long-awaited milestone. Both men were members of USA-2 in 2010 with pilot John Napier. They were one of six teams that crashed in their second heat, and they were not able to finish the competition due to an injury to their pilot.
On the bus ride to the track, Fogt reminded his teammates of how important Sunday night was for them.
“It’s been 1,445 days since we crashed in Vancouver,” he said. “It’s been a long time waiting for this moment.”
Team USA’s third pilot, Nick Cunningham, and his brakeman sit two spots behind Butner and Fogt.
"I envisioned a different feeling," Cunningham said. "We can't dwell on it or beat ourselves up. We came in with the mentality to win, but now we need to set new goals for the race. We're going to come out here tomorrow and try to get it done."
MEN’S ALPINE MAKES HISTORY: It was a historic day for U.S. Alpine skiing as both Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller earned medals in the Super G at Rosa Khutor Sunday.
It was a frustrating day for Park City’s Ted Ligety, who finished 14th after making a mistake midway through the race that threw him off podium pace.
“I actually skied really well, right there in podium contention, up until I made a huge, huge mistake and then I skied well at the bottom,” he said. “That’s a little disappointing and frustrating. At least I was pushing hard and had the right attack mode. I just made one big error in the right spot.”
Miller tied for bronze with Jan Hudec (Canada) and with the podium he becomes the oldest medalist in Olympic Alpine skiing at 36. The previous record was 34 years old (set in 2006).
He also now owns six Olympic medals, which is the most of any U.S. Alpine skier. He trails U.S. record holders Bonnie Blair and Apolo Anton Ohno, who each won eight medals in their Olympic careers.
Miller said the medal provides a well-timed boost for him.
“I’ve never been stuck on counting medals, but for me, I’ve put in a lot of work,” he said. “This was a really hard year with a lot of effort coming back to get fit and get ready and just battle through everything life throws at you. To come out and ski hard — this is almost therapeutic for me to be in these situations where I really get to test myself. So I was happy to be on the right side of the hundredths. Some days medals don’t matter, and today was one of the ones where it does matter.”
Weibrecht, who graduated from the Winter Sports School in Park City, becomes the fourth American man (Miller, Phil Mahre and Tommy Moe) to win two or more medals in Olympic Alpine skiing. His silver gives him back-to-back Olympic medals in Super G, as he won bronze in 2010.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I came down and I knew I had skied well. I knew I had a good run. I came through the finish (and) I just sort of appreciated my run and I took a couple seconds and looked at the time. I saw second, looked away and then I looked again and I saw it and was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ It’s been a rough couple years with all the injuries and everything else, but this makes up for it.”
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