Holcomb golden once again, wins World Championship
February 21, 2012
When he first heard the news, he didn’t believe it.
Park City’s Steven Holcomb, gold medalist in the four-man bobsled at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, had just won the 2012 two-man bobsled World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., Sunday with teammate Steve Langton, when someone told him they’d made history as the first U.S. two-man team to ever win a World Championship.
"I had heard that we’d never won, but thought, ‘Oh, they just don’t know,’" he explained in an interview Monday afternoon. "I couldn’t believe that we had never won that title. It was really mind-blowing.
"I’ve been to 12 World Championships before, and I’ve obviously never done it before. Everybody ahead of me had never done it either."
The Parkite’s ability to eradicate decades without a top placing was also on display in 2010, when he secured America’s first Olympic gold medal in bobsled since 1948. In 2009, Holcomb was part of the first four-man bobsled team to win a World Championship since 1959.
He said Sunday’s triumph was a prime example of what it means to fight through adversity. In the two-day, four-heat race that began Saturday, Holcomb said he made an early mistake the first day — a mistake, he said, that clouded his mind for most of the weekend.
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Until the first race Sunday.
That’s when Holcomb and Langton, who started just 0.12 seconds behind Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden, made their move and won the third heat by 0.32 seconds to take the overall lead.
The Americans did not look back.
USA-1 crossed the finish line in the fourth and final heat Sunday 0.46 seconds ahead for the first-ever U.S. two-man bobsled World Championship in the history of the sport.
"It’s one of those situations where you don’t give up," Holcomb said, looking back on the miscue made Saturday. "I made a mistake, and you have to fix that mistake. You just have to go out there and give everything you got.
"I thought I may have blown an opportunity that may never come up again. But at the same time, if you think like that, you’re just going to go downhill. I had to put it behind me and had to really focus on all that hard work from last summer and this season. There were a lot of people who trusted me. I couldn’t just give up, and I didn’t."
Holcomb said the groundbreaking victory was sweeter due to the fact that it was on American soil.
"It is bobsledding in a non-Olympic year, so people have put it in the back of their minds," he said. "It’s nice to do it in front of a home crowd where people actually care that you win."
"It feels pretty fantastic," said Langton in a release. "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."
The accolades kept coming Sunday as the Americans went on to clinch the World Championship team event hours after Holcomb and Langton secured two-man gold.
According to a release, athletes in women’s and men’s skeleton and women’s and men’s two-person bobsled take one run each for a four-run combined time in the team event. The nation with the lowest combined time is declared the winner. Matt Antoine (Prairie du Chien, Wisc.) and Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) took the medal-winning runs in the skeleton heats. World Championship bronze medalist Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) teamed with Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) in the women’s bobsled run, while Holcomb partnered with Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas) to secure gold for the U.S. in the final heat.
"It was a pretty great day to win two World Championships," he said.
Asked where the two-man title stands among his laundry list of accomplishments, Holcomb said it’s close to the top.
"It’s pretty up there," he said. "It doesn’t compare to the four-man gold, but it’s still pretty incredible. Talking about it right now, it’s still hard to believe I’m the first American to do that. There were so many great American drivers that came before me and could never do it."
Park City’s famous bobsled driver hopes to continue his hot streak this week as the World Championships continue in Lake Placid with the four-man bobsled races slated for Saturday and Sunday.
"Our goal traditionally is to do well in the two-man and win the four-man," he said. "We finally got ahead of ourselves. This week is not going to be easy."
And what about the momentum?
"It definitely builds our confidence," he said. "We’re motivated. We’re ready to go and take back the four-man title."