German is bobsled king It's Miller Time: Bode finally golden
• Photo gallery: Winter Olympics Sunday Feb. 21
By TOM WITHERS
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Andre Lange stepped out of his bobsled, flexed his muscles and mugged for the cameras.
Germany's sliding star then held up four fingers.
Four for four. A golden grand slam.
Lange kept his perfect record inside the winter rings intact yesterday, winning the two-man competition to become the winningest pilot in Olympic history and increase the medal total for a country that has mastered the sliding sports like no other.
"Andre is the great one," said Canada-1 driver Lyndon Rush. "They say the cream rises to the top, Andre Lange is the cream."
With cropped hair he recently dyed blond — yep, golden blond — just for the Vancouver Games, Lange completed his four trips down Whistler Sliding Center's wicked-fast track in 3 minutes, 26.65 seconds, .22 ahead of Germany's Thomas Florschuetz (3:26.87), who won the silver. Russia's Alexsandr Zubkov (3:27.51) won the bronze.
Lange has raced four times in the Olympics and won them all.
"When I started bobsledding 17 years ago, I would have never thought of such a victory," Lange said. "If you told me I would win four gold medals, I would say 'You're stupid.' "
Lange is the first driver to win four bobsled golds since the sport first slid into the games in 1924.
The 36-year-old, who has hinted at retiring after he competes in the four-man event here, came to Blackcomb Mountain tied with Meinhard Nehmer, who won three gold medals (1976, 1980) for Germany, when it was divided into East and West.
But just as he has sped past the competition, first in a four-man sled at Salt Lake in 2002, then at Cesana, Italy, in both the two- and four-man competitions four years ago, and now in Canada's back country, Lange has separated himself from everyone in the record books.
"I hope in the long history of bobsleigh someone goes above and beyond what I have done," said Lange, who has raced with brakesman Kevin Kuske for every one of his Olympic wins.
Now with nine medals from luge, skeleton and bobsled in these games, Germany has matched its biggest medal haul since beginning to compete under a unified flag again at the 1992 games. It also won nine medals at Salt Lake City in 2002 (five in luge, four in bobsled).
The women's and four-man bobsled are still to come.