“Going into Sochi, we’re all now experienced, we’ve all been there,” said Steven Holcomb, the driver of USA 1’s two- and four-man bobs. “We know not only what it takes to be an Olympian, not only what it’s like to be in that pressure of the Olympics, but now we know what it’s like to win.”
Holcomb made a little bit of history at Vancouver 2010, winning the USA’s first gold in the four-man bob since Francis Tyler, Patrick Martin, Edward Rimkus and William D’Amico topped the podium at the 1948 Games in St Moritz.
While Justin Olsen and Curt Tomasevicz will be back in the bob with him to defend the title in Sochi, Steve Mesler has retired, with Steve Langton – Holcomb’s team-mate in the two-man bob – coming in to replace him.
Describing what Langton brings to the US team, Holcomb said: “The guy’s a freak. He has an unreal vertical jump. He’s incredibly strong. He’s very disciplined and he’s the exact guy to have on your team.”
Holcomb hails from Park City, Utah, which is also home to his fellow Olympian Ted Ligety, one of the greatest skiers in the world. Both are former pupils of the city’s Winter Sports School, Holcomb having started his winter sports career in Alpine skiing and proving sufficiently gifted to compete at national level. A soldier in Utah’s National Guard through to his honourable discharge in 2006, Holcomb turned his attention to bobsleighing at the end of the 1990s. After developing into one of the finest drivers in the world, he was then diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus, a disease that thins the cornea and causes distorted vision.
Seeing the light
Holcomb’s failing eyesight actually enhanced his feel for the movement of the sled, to the extent that it became almost like an extension of his body. He eventually regained full vision in 2008 thanks to a revolutionary surgical procedure, and went on to record a string of victories on the FIBT World Cup circuit and enjoy sustained world championship success, winning the four-man bob titles in 2009 and 2012, the two-man bob in 2012 and the mixed-team event in 2012 and 2013.
At Vancouver 2010 he placed sixth in the two-man with Tomasevicz before unseating Germany’s defending two-time Olympic champion Andre Lange in the four-man, beating the Whistler track record in the first two runs and dominating the third to win with something to spare.
At Sochi 2014 Holcomb will once again be banking on his powers of anticipation and his gift for keeping USA 1, nicknamed The Night Train, on the right line at speeds of over 140kmh and at 4+ G-force.
His objective in Russia is simple: “It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re defending the gold and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out there and fight tooth and nail. We’re not here to finish second or third. I’ll take second or third but that’s not our goal. Our goal is gold: 100 percent.”
Should he achieve that goal, he will become the first American four-man bob driver to win back-to-back Olympic golds since William Fiske in 1928 and 1932.
Follow Steve Holcomb as he shares the details of the runs that took him and the Night Train crew to Olympic gold:
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