U.S. wins bobsled; first in 62 years Olympic results
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• Photo gallery: Winter Olympics Saturday Feb. 27
By Tim Reynolds
WHISTLER, British Columbia — With one more perfect run down sliding's most treacherous track, Steven Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding yesterday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.
It was the first gold medal for the U.S. in sliding's signature race since Francis Tyler won one for the Americans at St. Moritz in 1948.
Holcomb's four-run time was 3 minutes, 24.46 seconds, with Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz pushing for him again — just as they did in winning the world championship a year ago.
"This is bigger," U.S. coach Brian Shimer said.
German Andre Lange, who failed to win a gold medal for the first time in five Olympic events, had a nearly perfect final run to win the silver in his final race. Lange finished 0.38 seconds behind Holcomb and his team.
Lyndon Rush drove Canada-1 to the bronze.
Holcomb and his sledmates crossed the finish line then wrapped each other in American flags. Holcomb hoisted his helmet high as family and friends craned for photographs, and a party the U.S. program waited 62 years to throw was finally getting under way.
"This will take a while for it to sink in," Holcomb said. "You work so hard, and when you finally get there it's like, 'Well, now what? I don't know what to do.' We've worked so hard and gone through so much in the last four years to end on a high note like this is huge. It's overwhelming."
USA-3 driver Mike Kohn was a push athlete for Shimer's sled at those 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, when Todd Hays drove to silver and Shimer got the Americans a bronze.
"It's huge," said Kohn, who finished 13th. "This is a great moment. It's hopefully going to change the program and bring some publicity and some funding to this sport, just like it did in '02 when we won silver and bronze."
Minutes after it was over, Tomasevicz pulled off Holcomb's hat, planting a smooch on his pilot's bald, sweaty head.
Sealed with a kiss, it was, and then the four men stood atop the podium for the flower ceremony at trackside — medals came later last night — and did what's known as the "Holcy Dance," the little shuffle step that Holcomb does to keep his team loose.
From there, Holcomb hugged anyone he could wrap his giant arms around, and Mesler hopped the wall of the bleachers to celebrate with his family.
"It means an awful lot," said Darrin Steele, CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "This has been a long road. But all the components came together. You put a sled and a team together, and you never know how it's going to go."
A slew of U.S. teammates rushed to Holcomb's sled, and one of the first to offer congratulations was Geoff Bodine, the 1986 Daytona 500 champion who was the driving force behind the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project — which funded and built the sleds Americans raced at the Vancouver Games.
"It's a great thing for the U.S.," Canada-2 driver Pierre Lueders said. "They've been competitive in bobsled for so long, but have been shut out quite a few times. He definitely is a talent, and I can't wait to see how he's going to do four years from now."