Must be an Olympic season. Steven Holcomb is winning gold medals again.
Holcomb piloted USA-1 to a win in the opening World Cup four-man bobsled race of the season on Saturday, a perfect start to the year for the driver who guided the Americans to a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The team of Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt finished two runs on the Calgary track in 1 minute, 48.56 seconds. There was a two-way tie for second between Germany, piloted by Maximilian Arndt, and Russia, piloted by Alexander Zubkov. Both those sleds were 0.09 seconds off the pace set by USA-1.
"It's been a fantastic weekend," Holcomb said. "It's Olympic year, and this is when it counts. Walking away from the season opener with two gold medals feels really good."
It was Holcomb's first win in a four-man race since November 2010 in Whistler, the track where he won gold at the Vancouver Games nine months earlier.
USA-1 set the pace in the first heat with a start time of 5.04 seconds and a run of 54.08 seconds. The start — so critical in bobsled — was 5.01 seconds in the second heat, and that gave Holcomb more than enough momentum to finish off the win.
"We knew we didn't meet our potential in the first run and that we had to blow it out in the second run if we were going to keep our spot," Tomasevicz said.
Holcomb and Tomasevicz were in the sled that gave the U.S. the four-man gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and the Americans are expected to vie for another gold at the Sochi Games.
"My team has been chomping at the bit to compete, and they did what they needed to do to keep us ahead," Holcomb said. "The other teams are here to win, just like we are, and they aren't going to go down easily. We need to be on our game, and I think we did that today."
Nick Cunningham and push athletes Dallas Robinson, Johnny Quinn and Abe Morlu were 12th overall for the U.S. Cory Butner and push athletes Chuck Berkeley, Andreas Drbal and Chris Langton finished 15th for the Americans.
The U.S. also took home silver and bronze medals in the women's race later Saturday. Canada's Kaillie Humphries, the Olympic favorite, easily won the season-opener on her home track, finishing in 1:52.77.
Elana Meyers and Aja Evans won the silver, 0.56 seconds back. And Jamie Greubel and Katie Eberling teamed for the bronze, another 0.29 seconds off the pace. Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones finished tied for 15th, 1.90 seconds behind the winning time.
The series resumes next weekend in Park City, Utah.