Techie bobsledder wins gold
Computer science major Steven Holcomb leads his four-man Night Train sled to America's first bobsled gold in 62 years.
WHISTLER, B.C.--Leading at the midway point of the four-man bobsled competition, the Night Train sled piloted by Steven Holcomb is aiming to help the United States break a 62-year-old streak without a gold medal in bobsled.
Holcomb and his teammates turned in track record times in both runs on Friday, giving the team a 0.4-second lead over Canada and a 0.44-second lead over a tough German team, piloted by Andre Lange, who is trying to become the first man to twice win the two-man and four-man events at the same Olympics.
As a world champion, Holcomb is best-known for his bobsled prowess. But to geeks everywhere, he also represents a nice example of an athlete who also happens to be a computer nerd. Holcomb is an avid gamer, a computer science major, and a Microsoft Certified Professional, though these days he is bobsledding full-time.
I'll be sending updates Saturday from the Whistler Sliding Center, starting shortly, so check back here.
1:04 p.m. PST: As the race leaders, Holcomb and the Night Train sled are up first. They set the pace with a time of 51.19 seconds. Up next is Canada, which finished Friday in second.
1:11 p.m. PST: The second-place sled of Canada is just slower than Night Train with a 3rd run of 51.24.
Holcomb's clean run means he is likely to be in the lead as he enters fourth and final run.
2:03 p.m. PST: After 3 of 4 runs, USA-1 bobsled piloted by Holcomb still in 1st, followed by Canada and Germany.
The track is a bit slower today with the sun peeking through. That's meant somewhat lower top speeds, but also a whole lot fewer crashes.
Interesting note: In addition to sweeping the snow at the start after each run, today they are also pulling down what look like giant window shades to keep the track ice temperature as consistent as possible.
2:27 p.m. PST: So after three runs, here are the official standings. Holcomb and USA-1 are in first with a total time of 2:32.94.
In second is Lyndon Rush and Canada-1, with a time of 2:33.39, that's 0.45 of a second back. In third is Germany-1, piloted by Andre Lange a further 0.09 second back, at 2:33.48.
Countryman Thomas Florschuetz has Germany-2 in fourth place, with a time of 2:33.95, while Canada-2 is in fifth place with a time of 2:33.95.
Starting the fourth run will be Croatia 1, followed by Korea-1 and Great Britain-1, all more than five seconds back of the leader.
3:30 p.m. PST: Lange total time 3:24.84 for the four runs. Canada-1 up now, was in second. Huge cheers for the home sled.
3:32 p.m. PST: Canada was one one-hundredth of second slower than Germany so Lange's is the time to beat.H3:24.84 is what holcomb needs for gold. Huge cheers as he takes the track too.
3:45 p.m. PST: Holcomb has won the gold, ending the 62-year drought, with a combined time for four runs of 3:24.48. The last gold for the U.S. in a bobsled event was in 1948 in St. Moritz.
4:21 p.m. PST: There were many choked-up people in the U.S. bobsled program as Holcomb and team crossed the finish line.
"There's obviously a lot of emotion," said Darren Steele, CEO of the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
Steele said that things stayed pretty quiet over the last couple days. "We don't celebrate until the final run, until the sled crosses the finish line," he said. "This is a great day for the U.S. and our program."