Steven Holcomb‘s four-man bobsled win streak came to a disastrous end in Winterberg, Germany, on Saturday.
The Olympic champion crashed in the second of two runs and finished in 20th place behind winner Max Arndt of Germany.
“Gotta push it,” Holcomb said after getting out of his sled at the finish. “Gotta try.”
Holcomb also crashed in the same curve in training earlier this week. The other U.S. drivers in Winterberg also crashed this week — Nick Cunningham in training and Cory Butner in the first run Saturday.
“Corner nine has always been an interesting corner because there’s not a lot of variance in finding the right line,” U.S. bobsled coach Brian Shimer said, according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. “You have to be on the right line or you’ll go over, and finding that spot is tough when you’ve only had two training runs in four-man.”
The Winterberg Bobsled World Cup concludes with two-woman and four-man races Sunday. Universal Sports will have coverage.
Holcomb, who won the first seven races of the World Cup season in North America, has not won a race in Europe since Dec. 13, 2009, also in Winterberg. He was seventh in a two-man event Friday and second after the first run Saturday.
Cunningham, the only U.S. pilot not to crash Saturday, finished 12th. Butner was 25th.
The U.S. needs strong finishes from Cunningham and Butner this weekend and the next two weekends to qualify three sleds for Sochi.
Three nations will qualify three sleds via international rankings, and the U.S. was the third and final nation with three qualified sleds in rankings going into this weekend’s races. Russia, which had three sleds in the top 15 on Saturday, was right on its heels.
“It’s all about character now,” Shimer said. “Life unfortunately gives you ups and downs, and the higher you go, the steeper you fall. We’ve all been through it, and we were prepared for the low. These guys are determined, probably the most motivated they’ve ever been, and whatever happens we keep looking ahead with the big picture in mind.”
1. Max Arndt (GER) 1:49.97
2. Francesco Friedrich (GER) 1:50.14
3. Aleksander Zubkov (RUS) 1:50.17
12. Nick Cunningham (USA) 1:50.84
20. Steve Holcomb (USA) 1:52.32
25. Cory Butner (USA) 57.65