“I'm really pleased with my performance today as we had two very consistent runs,” said Zubkov, who with his brakeman Voevoda, was the quickest to get to grips with the punishing track at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
“The competition was really tough but luckily the work we've done was not in vain. Now we need to have some rest to prepare for the remaining two races,” he added.
“We’ll need to execute the same and maybe even add some speed. On this track, each mistake costs a lot.”
On his first run, Zubkov, the 2011 world champion and 2010 Olympic bronze medallist and 2011 world champion, set a new track record with a time of 56.25 seconds.
Swiss pair Hefti and Baumann, who were fourth after the first run, managed to improve their position to finish the day in second place, just 0.04 seconds ahead of USA’s Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton.
Holcomb playing catch-up
Holcomb, the current World Cup holder, who was part of the US quartet that won gold in the four-man event at Vancouver 2010, piloted a strong first run, finishing just 0.09 seconds behind Zubkov. However, a shaky second run left him and Langton lying third on a combined time of 1:53.18.
“We had a good race today and as I said after training the home team's is going be tough to beat, They know the track better than anybody and they're consistent,” said Holcombe.
“The result is a little bit disappointing - it's supposed to be better. But it is what it is. We are still sitting in medal contention,” he added, before suggesting that the gold medal remained still very much within their grasp.
“We’ll go as fast as we can go in the two runs tomorrow,” he promised. “We're only four one-hundredths of a second behind. If we have two solid runs, I think we can catch them."