Reuters - Sat, 27 Feb 23:49:00 2010
Steve Holcomb's Night Train tamed Whistler's wild track to bring home the first American gold medal in Olympic four-man bobsleigh for 62 years.
Holcomb and his crew held on to a comfortable lead in the fourth and final run to present the United States with a triumph in the showcase sliding event they had been waiting for since the 1948 Games in St Moritz, Switzerland.
"No more 62 years," a stunned-looking Holcomb said after performing the "Holcy dance", a little shuffle routine of his, on the podium during the flower ceremony.
"We'll start the clock over," he added. "Now it's going to be four years."
Germany's Andre Lange, bidding for a record third consecutive four-man Olympic gold before retiring, failed to repeat his double in Turin but managed to climb a spot in the final run of his last event to claim silver.
Canada I, with Lyndon Rush at the helm, were in the silver medal position before the last run but had to settle for the bronze, just 0.01 seconds behind the Germans, on another rainy day on Blackcomb mountain.
Lange, nicknamed the Cannibal for his habit of winning everything, used his vast driving experience to deny Canada the silver by the narrowest of margins, breaking the hearts of thousands of red Maple Leaf flag-waving fans.
The day, however, belonged to the Americans and Rush admitted he had been impressed by Holcomb's immaculate driving down the world's fastest track.
"They sort of embarrassed the field, to be honest with you," said the Canadian. "They showed up in our back yard and whipped us. Hats off to them and they're great guys."
Lange, too, paid tribute to Holcomb, who can proudly say he has beaten the sport's ultimate driving machine.
"We have a worthy Olympic champion," said the 36-year-old German, who confirmed his days in a dangerous sport he has dominated for over a decade were over.
"I am definitely not carrying on. I have won so many things, I've had another great Olympics. I stood up here in 2006 when this track was being built and knew it would be a good place to retire and that time has come," he added.
A man a few words, Lange found it hard to express how he felt about leaving a sport he has graced for 17 years.
"This certainly is a special moment for me and my team," he said. "It has to sink in and it's very difficult for me to talk about emotions at this moment."
Others, however, were more eloquent, starting with Holcomb.
"I know Andre is going out with a bang," Holcomb said. "He wanted to (win) and to be able to beat him when he wanted something that bad is huge. It feels great.
"He's been a great competitor and he's definitely pushed my game to a better level," Holcomb added.
Holcomb's shiny black sled had thundered into the lead on Friday, clocking the fastest time and beating the track record on each of the first two runs.
The bulky 29-year-old and crewmen Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz were marginally slower in Saturday's last two runs, needing 51.19 and 51.52 seconds to cover the winding 1,400-metre track.
That was enough, however, for the four to raise their fists the moment they crossed the line. A quick look at the board showed a 0.38-second lead on the Germany I sled and confirmed they had made an American dream come true.
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