PARK CITY Park City native Steven Holcomb figured to have an advantage. Under a heavy snowfall, he knew just what to do.
"The weather was a little bit of a factor, but growing up here I am kind of used to it," said Holcomb.
Already the defending World Cup champion in the 2-man bobsled, Holcomb probably didn't need any more of an edge over the other drivers but he got it. He and his pushing partner, Curtis Tomasevicz, used his home-ice knowledge and advantage to win the gold medal Friday night at the Utah Olympic Park with a combined time of 1:37.01. The time was .16 seconds faster than the German No. 2 team and .27 seconds faster than the bronze medalists from Austria.
"My coach, before the run, told me, 'Whatever you do, try to stay out of the snow. It will slow you down.' It is kind of hard to do when there is three inches on the track," Holcomb joked. "It is really hard to know how well you do. You just get to the bottom and hope that it is fast, that you were in the right spots at the right time."
After Holcomb won both the 2-man and 4-man overall gold medals during last season's World Cup circuit, he said he has felt even more pressure to perform well. Bobsledding has been a European-dominated event, and he said they want to get it back to the norm.
"One thing that kind of disturbed me is they (other federations) are spending millions and millions of dollars to do whatever they can to beat me," Holcomb added. "It is going to be a difficult year because they were not too happy with how well we did last year, so they want to try to make sure we don't do it again. But we are going to get it."
The women's side had a different feel than the celebration by the rowdy home crowd for Holcomb. Sometimes a bronze medal just isn't good enough. At least that was the general feeling expressed by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming when they finished third in the women's bobsled event.
"After the week I had, I guess pulling out third was good, but I'm obviously disappointed," said Rohbock. "I am just ready for the first half to be over."
There wasn't any one thing during the competition that had the team feeling a little down, but a combination of physical and mechanical ailments contributed to the mounting frustration.
"Both the runs were pretty solid, but I have a hurt adductor so I couldn't help out with the start much and that hurt us," added Rohbock. "And adding in this week, I drove a different sled pretty much every week because we were doing different things with the steering. It was very frustrating. That was actually the first two runs I have taken with that different steering, so considering that, I was pretty happy."
"It's been frustrating. Both of us have had injuries. I had back injuries and finally, just now have been able to get some pushes in," added Fleming. "I am pleased I guess to still be somewhat in the mix, but it could have been better."The sliding continues today at the Utah Olympic Park with the 4-man competition starting at 3 p.m.