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Holcomb, Langton give US its 1st gold in 2-man bobsled at world championships in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) ' Steven Holcomb and brakeman Steve Langton won the two-man bobsled Sunday, the first time the U.S. captured this event at the world championships.
Three years ago, Holcomb won the two-man bronze and four-man gold at worlds in Lake Placid on his home track at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
This time, he surged past first-day leader Lyndon Rush of Canada with a near-flawless third run. Holcomb had a four-run time over two days of 3 minutes, 42.88 seconds. He was 0.46 seconds ahead of Rush and brakeman Jesse Lumsden.
Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske of Germany took the bronze, 0.55 behind Holcomb. World Cup champion Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter of Switzerland were fifth and John Napier and Christopher Fogt sixth for the U.S., which placed all three of its sleds in the top 10. Rookie Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson finished ninth.
Before Sunday, the best the U.S. had done in two-man at the worlds was four silvers ' Stanley Benham (1950-51), Art Tyler (1957), and Gary Sheffield (1961). Since the discipline began at worlds in 1931, the U.S. also had collected only six bronze medals ' Brian Shimer (1997), Howard Clifton (1967), Tyler (1959), Benham (1954) and Fred Fortune (1949-50).
Piloting a sled he'd never before raced ' the same one Shauna Rohbock drove to the silver in the women's race at worlds last year in Konigssee, Germany ' Holcomb drove USA-1 into contention for the gold on Saturday. He recovered from a shaky first run to finish the day second, just 0.12 seconds behind Rush.
Before he climbed out of the sled for the ride back to the top between runs on the first day, the reigning Olympic champion in four-man already knew what had gone wrong and used social media to send a warning: "Got it figured out. Time to make my move," Holcomb tweeted.
Holcomb cut Rush's lead in half with a sterling second run, the fastest of the 27 sleds that completed the run, and kept up the pressure in Sunday's first heat.
Rush slid first, getting the advantage of clean ice for being the first-day leader, but he bobbled in the tricky curve just past the midpoint of the 20-curve layout and finished the run in 55.86 seconds.
Next up was Holcomb, and after a strong start of 5.07 seconds ' the best of the heat ' he laid down a time of 55.54 seconds, the fastest of any team in all four heats as coach Brian Shimer gave them a thumbs-up, a big smile creasing his face at the finish.
That put the American duo in command with a lead of 0.20 seconds over Rush and 0.26 ahead of Arndt.
In the span of two runs, Holcomb and Langton had gained nearly a half-second on the Canadians. But this is a sport where mistakes can come swiftly.
"Need to stay focused and relaxed and do it again. The race isn't over," Holcomb tweeted before the final run.
Holcomb did just that, putting the finishing touch on the memorable day with a final run of 55.63 seconds, beaten only by the German sled of fourth-place finisher Francesco Friedrich and Marko Huebenbecker.
Just as he did three years ago, Holcomb skipped the final two races of the World Cup season ' he still finished seventh in two-man and sixth in four-man ' to prepare for worlds as the coaches took a calculated gamble putting him in a different sled. Shimer said only time would tell if the gamble was worth it.