Former soldier Steven Holcomb piloted the USA-1 bobsled Saturday to the United States’ first gold medal in four-man bobsled since 1948.
Along with teammates Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz, Holcomb set the track record during the first heat on Friday and then set it again on the second run to take a commanding lead. Two more strong runs Saturday ensured the “Night Train” sled piloted by Holcomb would give the U.S. its first gold in the four-man in 62 years.
The win caps an amazing journey for Holcomb, a former Utah National Guardsman who needed surgery in 2008 to overcome a severe eye problem. This week he conquered one of the fastest and most dangerous sliding tracks in the world, driving so well Friday that a German competitor called Holcomb’s performance “super-genius.” Turn 13 of the Whistler track offered a particularly daunting challenge to the drivers, and Holcomb had dubbed it “50-50” last year after seeing so many crashes while he was training there.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had my problems there as well,” Holcomb said afterward. “In the two-man, I had to have a little talk with the 50-50 and made sure we had everything worked out.”
For the other three National Guardsmen competing, the Whistler track proved tougher to cope with.
USA-2, piloted by Sgt. John Napier, crashed during Friday’s heats. Napier, a member of the Vermont National Guard and the Army World Class Athlete Program, strained his neck and was forced to withdraw. Fellow guardsman 1st Lt. John Fogt was a brakeman on Napier’s sled.
USA-3, piloted by Virginia National Guard Sgt. Mike Kohn, finished 13th overall.
More images of the U.S. victory and the Guard competitors after the jump.