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Holcomb and Langton crowned two-man bobsled World Champions
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Feb. 19, 2012)–Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) claimed the first two-man bobsled World Championship title ever for the U.S. in the 2012 contest for the crown. All three U.S. teams entered into the competition posted top nine finishes to cap a successful two-man season for the program.
“It feels phenomenal to be World Champion,” Holcomb said. “You know, we won the World Championships here in 2009 and it was great, but this is my first two-man title. I think that the hard work we put in during the off-season and all the work we’ve put in this season has really paid off.”
Holcomb started making history when he won the first four-man bobsled title in 50 years for the U.S. during the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, and then again made history by earning the first Olympic gold medal for the program in 62 years in 2010. His string of record-breaking runs continued today with world push champion Langton pushing him along.
“It is going to take awhile to sink in,” Holcomb said. “I am just really proud of my team.”
Langton has had a bumpy rise to the top. He emerged as one of the best athletes in the world when he started the sport five years ago, but several injuries kept him from making a run for USA-1. Langton burst back onto the scene last season to claim the world push championship title, and now he’s added world champion to his growing sliding resume.
“It feels pretty fantastic,” Langton said. “I have had some success, but to come out here and win my first big championship is pretty amazing. The feeling is really indescribable; it honestly really hasn't sunk in yet. Steve did a really great job and our support staff couldn't be better. The U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Medicine staff, my strength coach Jason Hartman, and my teammates Justin and Curt and the rest of the U.S. team have just been really unbelievable, and they are a big part of this win.”
The last two-man bobsled World Championship medal for the U.S. was bronze earned by Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz in the 2009. Before that, Brian Shimer claimed bronze in 1997, and the most recent best effort for the program was a silver medal claimed by Garry Sheffield and Jerry Tennant in 1961.
The stands were vibrating as fans and family members cheered on USA-1 at the start with cowbells and horns. Holcomb and Langton blasted the Under Armour sled off the block in 5.07 seconds to lead the field from start to finish in the third heat. The crew started finals 0.12 seconds behind Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden, but Holcomb and Langton made up 0.32 seconds in the third run to take the lead.
Even with history on the line, Holcomb and Langton were relaxed before the final run. Langton posted, “#overthetop,” while Holcomb typed that he was “very happy with my first run, but the race isn’t over” on Twitter.
The crew stepped it up with a 5.03 start time and continued to gain time on the Canadians. Teammates cheered as the splits showed USA-1 picking up time, and the Under Armour crew crossed the line 0.46 seconds ahead for the win. After Holcomb and Langton hoisted the trophy in the air, they stepped off the podium and handed it over to Shimer.
“I drive the sled, Langton pushes it-I mean I help push it- but there are so many other people that go into the little things of the day to day operation of the team,” Holcomb said. “I know I gave Shimer a hard time about being in the garage that late, but he really did spend that much time out there making sure the sleds were perfect. We were in the garage late last night making some adjustments that we thought might help and you saw the first run and it worked out.”
Shimer handed the trophy back to Holcomb and looked bewildered to be a part of yet another historic moment in a sport he’s been involved with for over 25 years.
“I can’t say enough about Holcomb, he is just unbelievable,” Shimer said. “He is such a talented pilot and anything you throw at him he just seems to get down the hill quickly. This is just a really great moment for USA bobsled. A little more history being made.”
Holcomb and Langton’s historic title was won with a total time of 3:42.88. Rush and Lumsden earned silver with a four-run combined time of 3:43.34, while Germans Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske clocked an aggregate time of 3:43.43 for bronze.
National Guardsman John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Army soldier Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah) were ecstatic in the leader’s box as their final run bumped the Alamo team up a position into sixth place. The two-man crew’s third and fourth heat times of 56.05 and 55.93 seconds put their combined time at 3:44.12 for a top six result on their home track.
“We came into this race thinking that if we push really well maybe we can make it into eighth place,” Napier said. “We are really happy and pleased with a sixth place finish. We made some mistakes on the first three runs and on the fourth we just came together and gave it everything we had. We’re just ecstatic.”
Both solider-athletes served overseas following the 2010 Olympics- Napier six months in Afghanistan and Fogt one year in Iraq- and they felt honored to be representing not just the team, but their fellow soldiers.
“We were just talking about how we have the whole Army behind us,” Fogt said. “As two military athletes, we are really supported by the Army and think of ourselves as representing the USA and those guys, we don’t want to let them down.”
USA-3 of Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) wrapped up their World Championship debut with a ninth place finish. Cunningham shocked the field by posting the third fastest run of the second heat, and was again in the mix with some of the best teams in the world in the final. The duo posted starts of 5.18 and 5.14 for runs of 56.15 and 55.99 seconds, respectively, and clocked a four-run total of 3:44.35 for a top 10 finish.
“This is a good accomplishment, but the thing about athletes is that we are never satisfied and we always want more,” Cunningham said. “We got the third sled qualified for the U.S., but you always want to just go for more. I am proud of how far we’ve come this season, it seems like this is going to be a breakout season where people recognize the depth of the program with four solid USA sleds going into Sochi.”
The team event is taking place now, and World Championship action will resume with women’s skeleton racing at 9:30 am on Thursday.
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1. Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton (USA) 3:42.88 (55.96, 55.75, 55.54, 55.63); 2. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 3:43.34 (55.71, 55.88, 55.86, 55.89); 3. Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske (GER) 3:43.43 (55.78, 56.02, 55.71, 55.92);…6. John Napier and Chris Fogt (USA) 3:44.12 (56.04, 56.10, 56.05, 55.93);….9. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 3:44.35 (56.29, 55.92, 56.15, 55.99);
About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation
The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, United States National Guard, Kampgrounds of America, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, EDAS/Ripxx, UberSense, Tesa Tape and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at http://bobsled.teamusa.org.