PARK CITY — It may not be recognized officially, but Park City native Steve Holcomb and the Night Train crew celebrated their record-tying track start record anyway.
“You break a start record or a down record, it counts,” Holcomb said of the team’s 4.72-second start on their first of two four-man runs Friday night in team time trials. “The Swiss are in Switzerland saying, ‘It’s not a start record because we’re not there.’ ”
Holcomb was humorously addressing the fact that he’s broken or tied two track records in team time trials in the last week, but they aren’t officially recognized by the FIBT because they’re not international competitions. It’s a new rule that the defending Olympic gold medalist doesn’t really seem to embrace.
Holcomb and his crew — Alpine native Chris Fogt, Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) — won Friday’s four-man competition with a combined time of 1:35.99. Nick Cunningham and his crew were second with a time of 1:36.53 and Cory Butner and his crew were third with a combined time of 1:36.69.
The team time trials determine, in part, the makeup of the U.S. World Cup teams. Holcomb has a bye onto the team based on last season, but he’s not taking any chances as he wants to be razor sharp leading up to the 2014 Games.
He was pleased with the victory, even if he saw a lot of room for improvement.
“The start is obviously fantastic,” Holcomb said. “I was a little late on the hit on the first run, and fixed that, and unfortunately, one of the other guys was late. It’s just the way it is. We’re still practicing.” The crew has only had about six runs in the new Night Train sled.
“We’re still getting used to it,” he said. “I had a terrible drive the first run a lot of little mistakes. It wasn’t like I was near crashing or anything, just little driving mistakes that cost you enough time.”
Ever the competitor, Holcomb enjoyed the fact that the Canadian bobsled team was practicing Friday night and witnessed his crew tie the record, which was set during the 2002 Olympic Games by a Swiss pilot.
Fogt, the newest member of the Night Train team, said he is adjusting to life in the fastest American sled.
“It felt great,” he said. “This week with media and extra training, I don’t feel 100 percent, but we pushed real fast and speeds were great.” The UVU grad said he’s feeling more confident in the four-man races, in part because he and Langton pushed USA 2 in the 2010 Games together. Langton joined Holcomb and Tomasevicz in the Night Train right after the Olympics, while Fogt took a year off to serve a year of military service in the Middle East. He joined the other three in August after winning the national push championship.
“Chris and I are great friends off the track, but on the track, we push so well together,” Langton said. “So it’s been a long time coming. With injuries and military duty, Chris really hasn’t gotten a chance to show what he can really do. So I’m really happy that he had the opportunity this year, and we’re back pushing together.”
Tomasevicz said the best aspect of Friday’s performance might be that it was flawed.
“The start felt really good,” he said. “The good thing is that it wasn’t perfect. We know we can improve a couple of different things. It’s only going to get better.”
All of the athletes are ready to start competing against sleds that don’t have USA painted on them.
“I’m very excited,” Fogt said about the start of the World Cup season in a month. “So these records can count for something.”
The competition Saturday starts at 7 p.m. It's also streamed live at www.usbsf.com.