by Ralph Routon
Not since 1948 had the United States reigned over the world of Olympic bobsled, but Saturday afternoon that 62-year drought came to an end. And two of those gold medals for 2010 are coming back to Colorado Springs.
Steven Holcomb drove the USA 1 "Night Train" sled down the Whistler Sliding Center course to the Olympic title with a safe final run of 51.52 seconds, giving him a total of 3:24.46 for the four heats, with Germany 1 getting the silver at 3:24.84, barely edging Canada 1 to the bronze at 3:24.85.
On a day when other medal chances didn't materialize, the U.S. needed one more medal to guarantee 37 in all, the most by any nation at a Winter Olympics, topping Germany's 36 at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Americans came up just short in the long-track speedskating women's pursuit and the men's snowboarding parallel giant slalom. But the U.S. did take silver in the long track men's pursuit (which was guaranteed by being in the two-team final), led by veteran skater Chad Hedrick, and is also guaranteed at least silver in the men's hockey final Sunday against Canada.
That left bobsled at the last chance for the U.S. to make Olympic history here, and Holcomb with his team took care of that. Besides Curt Tomasevicz, also a Colorado Springs resident, the others on USA 1 were Steve Mesler and Justin Olsen.
They set track records with their first and second runs on Friday, then solidified their lead in the third heat earlier Saturday. That gave Holcomb a lead of 0.40 of a second, plenty of time in bobsled and enough that he didn't have to take big chances on the last run. All he had to do was avoid serious mistakes, and he did.