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USA-1 wins first four-man Olympic title since 1948

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by TBO, Feb 27, 2010.

  1. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    Holcomb rides to historic gold

    USA-1 wins first four-man Olympic title since 1948

    WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) - Steve Holcomb never flinched.
    Not when tasked with ending a 62-year drought for the United States in sliding's marquee race.

    Not when trying to navigate the world's most treacherous track.
    And not when Germany's Andre Lange valiantly tried to hang on to his Olympic title.

    Holcomb handled it all Saturday, driving USA-1 to the gold medal in four-man bobsledding, the first American pilot to do so since Francis Tyler at St. Moritz in 1948. By winning, he cemented the status of his famed "Night Train" sled and push team of Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz as sliding's best.

    "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."

    World champions, 2009. Olympic champions, 2010.

    "You can't do any better," said U.S. coach Brian Shimer, a bronze medalist in 2002, the year the Americans also got a silver in four-man with Todd Hays joining Shimer on that podium.

    With that, Shimer started to cry, unable to hold back any longer.

    Holcomb absolutely tamed the track, his four runs completed in 3 minutes, 24.46 seconds. Lange was 0.38 seconds back for the silver, his quest to win five gold medals in five Olympic tries thwarted, and Canada's Lyndon Rush drove his sled to the bronze.

    Lange celebrated wildly at the end, as if he had won. In his mind, he had.
    "Coming into today," said Kevin Kuske, one of Lange's pushers, "we knew silver was all we could win."

    Holcomb was that dominant. And not apologetic, either.

    "I'm good friends with Andre, so it's a thrill," Holcomb said. "And at the same time, it's, 'I didn't mean to rain on your parade - but I have my own parade going now.'"

    He and his sledmates crossed the finish line, index fingers in the air, then wrapped each other in American flags as a red-white-and-blue crowd roared with delight. Holcomb hoisted his helmet as family and friends craned for photographs, and a party the U.S. program waited 62 years to throw was finally getting under way.

    "It's huge," said USA-3 driver Mike Kohn, who finished 13th. "This is a great moment."

    On the trackside podium for the flower ceremony - medals come later Saturday - 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 teammates stood together and did what's known as the "Holcy Dance," the little shuffle step that Holcomb does to keep his team loose.

    "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."

    Holcomb was walking around trackside about an hour before the final heat, shaking his finger, mouthing the words "one more." With a lead of 0.45 seconds over Rush, all Holcomb needed to do was get his sled down the mountain without a huge mishap, knowing his lead was such that no one could catch him.

    All he had to do was not wreck before Curve 13, this track's most dangerous turn, the one Holcomb himself dubbed "50-50" after seeing roughly one out of every two sleds crash there last year.

    Holcomb and his sledmates grabbed each other by the hands one last time, took one last look down the hill and prepared to push the "Night Train" - the menacing, flat-black, super-high-tech sled that is coveted by almost every bobsledder in the world - into Olympic lore.

    Holcomb's final message, Olsen said, was: "One more run. Let's do it."
    A mere 51.52 seconds later, they did.

    "They embarrassed the field," Rush said. "They showed up in our backyard and it's kind of like the theme of these Olympic Games. The Americans have shown up in Canada and whipped us."

    It's barely been two weeks since Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed during a luge training run and died just hours before the opening ceremony. The Olympic track has been a lightning rod of criticism since.

    There were dozens of crashes on the super-fast surface, six during Friday's four-man heats alone, one bad enough to knock up-and-coming American John Napier - some say he'll be better than Holcomb - out of the Olympics with a sore neck.

    It might be the toughest track in the world, but Holcomb made it look toothless.

    "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."

    It wasn't long ago that Holcomb had 20-500 vision - "profound visual impairment" - that could have ended his bobsledding career before he managed to scrape up $15,000 to have contact lenses embedded behind his iris to correct a degenerative condition.

    "There was a moment when the four of us were standing there and everybody else had gone inside and we were the last off and it was a moment where I just stopped for half a second and took it in," said Mesler, who will contemplate retirement. "Four of us, empty parking lot and going down the hill. I'll never forget that."

    The "Night Train" guys were overwhelmed a few weeks ago, when they were surprised with shimmering championship rings for winning the four-man world title.

    A new piece of jewelry awaits, for doing something no U.S. 4-man team has done since 1948 when Tyler, Patrick Martin, Edward Rimkus and William D'Amico went to St. Moritz and won gold.

    "When they raise the flag and play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' for your son," said Steve Holcomb, the bobsledder's father, his voice choking at the thought, "well, that's pretty cool."

    Sealed with a kiss, it was, and then the four men stood atop the podium for the flower ceremony at trackside - medals come later Saturday 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."

    Holcomb had a lead of 0.40 seconds over Rush after Friday's first two runs, a giant advantage in sliding.

    "It was actually torture to have to wait for a whole night for this," Steele said.

    Holcomb was walking around trackside about an hour before the final heat, shaking his finger, mouthing the words "one more." With a lead of 0.45 seconds over Rush, all Holcomb needed to do was get his sled down the mountain without a huge mishap, knowing his lead was such that no one could catch him.

    All he had to do was not wreck before Curve 13, this track's most dangerous turn, the one Holcomb himself dubbed "50-50" after seeing roughly one out of every two sleds crash there last year.

    Holcomb and his sledmates grabbed each other by the hands one last time, took one last look down the hill and prepared to push the "Night Train" - the menacing, flat-black, super-high-tech sled that is coveted by almost every bobsledder in the world - into Olympic lore.

    A mere 51.52 seconds later, it was over.

    With that came a deafening roar, even louder than the silence that permeated the Whistler Sliding Center before these games began.

    It's barely been two weeks since Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed during a luge training run and died just hours before the opening ceremony. The Olympic track has been a lightning rod of criticism since.
    There were dozens of crashes on the super-fast surface, six during Friday's four-man heats alone, one bad enough to knock up-and-coming American John Napier - some say he'll be better than Holcomb - out of the Olympics with a sore neck.

    It might be the toughest track in the world, but Holcomb made it look toothless.

    It wasn't long ago that Holcomb had 20-500 vision - "profound visual impairment" - that could have ended his bobsledding career before he managed to scrape up $15,000 to have contact lenses embedded behind his iris to correct a degenerative condition. He's bobsled's best now.

    Holcomb was 8 when he saw a big, red Canadian bobsled on TV speeding down a track somewhere in the world. Already hooked on speed from Alpine skiing, Holcomb was quickly fascinated with sledding - but it took about a decade to achieve.

    Holcomb was about 18 when he got word that a bobsled tryout meeting was taking place at a bar in his native Park City, Utah. He and Tristan Gale tried to get in, unsuccessfully because neither was old enough to legally get past the door.

    Fortunately for the USBSF, neither was deterred by Utah's liquor laws.
    Gale won skeleton gold at Park City in 2002.

    And eight years later, Holcomb joins her as an Olympic champion.
    The "Night Train" guys were overwhelmed a few weeks ago, when they were surprised with shimmering championship rings for winning the four-man world title.

    A new piece of jewelry awaits.

    It was 1948 when Tyler, Patrick Martin, Edward Rimkus and William D'Amico went to St. Moritz and won the four-man bobsled gold for the United States, the second time in three Winter Olympics that Americans won sliding's marquee event.

    A 50-year gap between world four-man titles for the U.S. ended last year in Lake Placid. And now, the Olympic skein is finally over.

    "When they raise the flag and play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' for your son," said Steve Holcomb, the bobsledder's father, his voice choking at the thought, "well, that's pretty cool."
     
  2. big68

    big68

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  3. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    A lesson in bobsled appreciation

    In case you didn't receive the memo, the U.S. won its first men's bobsled gold since 1948 on Saturday. It was also the 36th medal for Team USA in Vancouver, which ties Germany's single-Games record from 2002 (and guarantees that the U.S. will break the record after the men's hockey team receives either a gold or silver on Sunday).

    Beyond its medal-collecting achievements, here are five other reasons to appreciate the American four-man team of Steve Holcomb[​IMG], Steve Mesler[​IMG], Curt Tomasevicz[​IMG] and Justin Olsen[​IMG]:

    1) They're making bad dancing cool again. While standing on the podium at the flower ceremony shortly after the event, Holcomb and his teammates broke into a minimalist series of kicks and modest arm movements that has come to be known as "The Holcy Dance." And as not-very-good dancing goes, it's rather entertaining.

    2) They appreciate the importance of fun. If Exhibit A of this statement is The Holcy Dance, then Exhibit B is labeled: Mustache-growing Contest.

    3) The driver (Holcomb) used to be blind. And we do mean that literally. Once legally blind with 20-500 vision, Holcomb was considering retirement in 2008 before an experimental procedure to implant lenses behind each iris improved his vision to 20-20.

    4) They just toppled a German giant. Beyond the fact that Holcomb & Co.'s medal broke a 62-year U.S. men's bobsled gold medal drought and tied Germany's Winter Games record of 36 medals, it also represented a shift in power on the men's bobsled landscape. Prior to Holcomb's victory, four-time gold medalist Andre Lange[​IMG] of Germany had never been defeated in any event at the Olympics.

    5) In addition to dancing, having mustache contests, once being blind and defeating German juggernauts, Holcomb and friends also happen to cut the ice on a sled called the "Night Train." And that, quite simply, is just about as slick a moniker for an Olympic bobsled as we can imagine.
     
  4. ElevatedThreat

    ElevatedThreat NRA Member

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    Someone needs to tell Olympic athletes that the American flag is not a gym towel, nor a cape, nor a handkerchief.

    Did you see the winning bobsled team drop the flag and step all over it?

    Idiots.

    Leave the flag on the pole, where it belongs.

    Sheesh.

    -ET
     
  5. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

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    At least they had their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem while on the podium, all too rare it seems...
     
  6. Daps

    Daps Always Vigilant

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    Whats the purpose of the bell ringing I heard while they bob sledded
     
  7. norton

    norton

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    Tip of the hat to Geoff Bodine. He set a goal and the USA team finished it this year.
     
  8. Hartford

    Hartford

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    The bell (it appears in skiing too) is a cow bell. Just another way of cheering the competitors on. http://cowbell.com/ The FAQ section details the history. It was originally a Swiss tradition to take the bells that weren't being used in the winter and use them to save their voices.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  9. CBennett

    CBennett

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    that was awesome!
     
  10. Berto

    Berto woo woo

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    Too bad Canada got us in hockey....but oh my hell, what a game.

    Congrats Canada, well done.
     
  11. CBennett

    CBennett

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    yup choked on that one(horrible OT play by USA) but at least we nailed the Canadians on the bobsled lol...that does not sound right does it :)
     
  12. g29andy

    g29andy CLM

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    Musta been a lot of Miss. State Bulldogs in the crowd.

    Congrats Team USA!
     
  13. geminicricket

    geminicricket NRA Life member

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    In my life, USA has won hockey. In my life, USA had never won bobsled.

    Winning bobsled means more to me this time than almost winning hockey does.