At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Steve Holcomb piloted the four-man United States bobsled team to a gold medal, ending a 62-year drought for Americans in the event.
Fast forward four years to Sochi. Holcomb has made history yet again, this time in the two-man bobsled. Though he and brakeman Steven Langton didn’t win gold, they became the first Americans to medal in the event since the 1952 Oslo Games after winning bronze.
The gold went to Russia-1 pilot Alexander Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda who blew away the field. In a sport that hundredths of a second can make the difference between medaling and going home empty-handed (as was the case for the Americans who finished .03 seconds ahead of the Russia-2 sled), the Russia-1 sled finished .66 seconds ahead Switzerland’s Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann who took silver.
Holcomb was a gold medal favorite entering the event. Prior to the Sochi Games, he won five of eight World Cup races including four in a row to end the circuit. Hefti and Baumann won two of those races while Canadian duo Justin Kripps and Bryan Barnett won one (they finished sixth in Sochi).
Zubkov hadn’t won a two-man event since the 2011 World Championships. Nevertheless, the Russians proved that expectations and projected finishes mean nothing when it comes to home track advantage.
Holcomb will look to make more Olympic history when the four-man bobsled begins on Saturday. If he can successfully defend his gold medal finish from Vancouver four years ago, he’ll become the first American to repeat gold in the event since William Fiske did it in 1932.