PARK CITY — Steve Holcomb and Chris Fogt certainly know how to make a homecoming special.
The Utah natives teamed up in the two-man bobsled team trials at the Utah Olympic Park Sunday night, and not only won the competition, but did so with a record-breaking start time of 4.75 seconds on their first run. The old record of 4.77 was set by a Canadian team in 2011.
“Technically, it’s as fast as anybody has ever started, and it’s a race,” said Park City native and the sled’s driver, Steve Holcomb, after the pair won the competition with times of 48.38 and 48.82, which was .35 seconds faster than the field. “It may not be recognized by the FIBT, but it’s still a track record.”
Holcomb said breaking a record in team trials is a significant accomplishment.
“It’s huge,” Holcomb said of how it helps the team mentally. “Knowing where we’re at right now, and we’re still a month away from World Cup starts. We’re still training and trying things. But we’re not coasting.”
Holcomb said he’d made that mistake before.
“Technically we have a bye,” Holcomb said of his status within the team. “Technically our first race is going to be the World Cup (in Calgary). And I made the mistake a few years ago of making that our first race. I went through the motions of team trials, and it kind of bit us in the butt the first couple of races. Realistically, I want to go 100 percent like this is a World Cup.”
For Alpine native Chris Fogt, it was his first official race with Holcomb, who guided USA 1, which is affectionately known as the Night Train, to an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver in 2010 and world championships in 2009 and 2012.
“It was great,” Fogt said of competing with Holcomb for the first time since earning his spot in USA 1 in late August. “He’s the best driver in the world, and not only that, but he’s been working so hard in this offseason, and it shows.”
Holcomb won last weekend’s two-man team trials with another USA 1 push athlete, Steve Langton. The fact that Holcomb has been successful on his home track, especially in two-man, made the newest member of the Night Train a little nervous.
“I had the jitters, so I had to not invite my family today,” Fogt said smiling. “I had to make sure I performed well first before the added pressure. It was my first time pushing with USA 1, and my first year (in the sport, 2009) he took first in two-man with Curt (Tomasevicz, the fourth member of USA 1). So I’ve seen him win here consistently and do really well, so it’s a lot of pressure my first race on USA 1.”
Holcomb said Fogt’s performance was impressive.
“With that, I think he just earned himself a spot here to race,” Holcomb said. They take Monday off and then they’re joined by their teammates for four-man training. The team trials in four-man will be held Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I love being home,” Holcomb said of competing in the town where he grew up. “Two Utah boys coming home to dominate the Olympic trials. I love it.”
And as satisfying as their record-breaking first start was, Holcomb said they still have a lot of work to do in defending that Olympic gold medal.
“It’s a good way to start the season,” Holcomb said of USA 1’s back-to-back wins. “Unfortunately I think we’re still over a second off the track record, which I think was set in the Olympics. So it’s going to be tough to beat.”
Army World Class Athlete Program soldier-athletes Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) teamed together again Sunday to earn second place behind USA-1. The crew pushed identical starts of 4.83 seconds before clocking finishes of 48.59 and 48.96 seconds (1:37.55). Because Holcomb has a bye onto the team, second place was a victory for fourth-year pilot Cunningham.
Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.) repeated their third-place finish from last week. The duo posted starts of 4.89 and 4.88 for down times of 48.72 and 48.90 seconds, respectively. Butner and Berkeley finished just 0.07 seconds behind Cunningham and Robinson to place them in a promising position for a spot on the team.
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