Steven Holcomb clinched his spot on this season’s U.S. national bobsled team several months ago. Nick Cunningham and Cory Butner had to prove themselves the past couple weeks.
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In the end, they all got what they wanted.
Holcomb will drive USA-1, Cunningham will be at the controls of USA-2 and Butner will pilot USA-3 this season, those designations becoming official Sunday when the 14-man national team for the upcoming World Cup campaign was announced in Park City, Utah.
The team will race in eight World Cup events, starting next month. The team for the Sochi Olympics will be chosen this winter.
"This is the most impressive team we’ve ever had going into an Olympic year," said U.S. men’s bobsled coach Brian Shimer, a former Olympic driver. "Selecting this pool of athletes was probably one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make as a committee. It’s exciting as a coach to have this kind of depth on the team, but bittersweet because I know we’re not taking a handful of athletes that are very capable of producing results."
Holcomb swept the selection races in what served as little more than a tuneup for his season since his spot on the national team was assured by driving his sled to a bronze medal in the four-man competition at the 2013 world championships.
Cunningham was second in every selection race, making the choice to give him USA-2 an easy one for team officials. Cunningham said having Holcomb to chase now helps him set the tone for the international season.
"Holcomb is so good," Cunningham said. "Any race you race with Holcomb, he will humble you in a heartbeat. … He’ll never let you have an easy day. He will make you earn every second of it."
The team includes 11 push athletes: Chuck Berkeley, Adam Clark, Andreas Drbal, Chris Fogt, Chris Langton, Steve Langton, Abe Morlu, Justin Olsen, Johnny Quinn, Dallas Robinson and Curt Tomasevicz.
Olsen and Tomasevicz were in the USA-1 sled that won Olympic gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Steve Langton is a world push champion and Fogt is the reigning national push champion. As of now, Steve Langton, Fogt and Tomasevicz would seem like the top candidates to be in the USA-1 four-man sled for the bulk of the World Cup season.
"The team is on fire right now," Holcomb said. "We’re still a month out from the start of the World Cup and they’re pumped up."
The women’s national bobsled team, which included Olympic track athletes Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams, was selected Saturday. Sliding trials resume in Park City on Monday with the resumption of the men’s and women’s skeleton selection races, which conclude Tuesday and will be followed by the announcement of who made that national team.