Steven Holcomb ended a four-year drought, winning a World Cup bobsled race outside of North America for the first time since before the 2010 Olympics on Saturday.
Holcomb and push athlete Steve Langton set a track record in Igls, Austria, in the first two-man bobsled run and prevailed in a two-run time of 1 minute, 43.72 seconds. Swiss Beat Hefti was second in 1:43.95, followed by Russian Alexander Zubkov.
“This season we’ve been really tweaking the sled, looking to get it faster,” Holcomb said of the one-year-old BMW-designed sled. “I think we showed that this sled can be really fast.”
It marked Holcomb’s first World Cup victory in Europe since Dec. 13, 2009, in Winterberg, Germany. That was a four-man race.
His last two-man World Cup win in Europe was on Feb. 10, 2007.
This is key for Holcomb’s Olympic medal hopes in Sochi, where he will attempt to win his first major international race outside of North America.
Holcomb has long been dominant on North American tracks, where he has more experience. His biggest victories — the 2010 Olympics four-man and 2009 and 2012 World Championships — were in Canada and the U.S.
Holcomb was 11th and 12th in two- and four-man World Cup races at the Sochi Olympic track last season.
The other U.S. sleds, driven by Cory Butner and Nick Cunningham, were ninth and 15th on Saturday.
The U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team is scheduled to be named Sunday after a four-man World Cup race in Igls.
Holcomb, Butner and Cunningham will almost surely be the three two-man drivers named for Sochi.
1. Steven Holcomb/Steve Langton (USA) 1:43.72
2. Beat Hefti/Thomas Amrhein (SUI) 1:43.95
3. Aleksander Zubkov/Dmitry Trunenkov (RUS) 1:44.00
9. Cory Butner/Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:44.36
15. Nick Cunningham/Andreas Drbl (USA) 1:44.95