Greubel-Poser, Holcomb give US World Cup bobsled sweep
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) Jamie Greubel-Poser's day could have been doomed just as it started, when teammate Cherelle Garrett slipped pushing their sled as their first run was getting underway.
And Steven Holcomb has been slipping in the World Cup standings all season, trying to rekindle past magic.
In the end, neither would be denied - and USA Bobsled and Skeleton opened 2016 with a huge day at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Greubel-Poser and Garrett won the women's bobsled competition, and Holcomb teamed with Carlo Valdes to rally and win the two-man race later Friday for the Americans. Add Annie O'Shea's first career women's skeleton gold from earlier Friday to the mix, and the U.S. went 3-for-3 on home ice to kick off the second half of the World Cup season.
''It's meaningful to win this week,'' Greubel-Poser said, ''for a lot of reasons.''
She teamed with Garrett to edge Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada by about a half-second in the two-run women's competition. And in the two-man race, Holcomb paired with Carlo Valdes as they had a nearly flawless second run to vault past Germany's Nico Walther and Christian Poser - Greubel-Poser's husband - for another gold, his first of the season and first in any two-man race since he won bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
''I'm ecstatic,'' Holcomb said. ''It's overwhelming.''
Greubel-Poser and Garrett finished in 1 minutes, 53.48 seconds, that slip at the start of the first run a mere afterthought at day's end. Humphries and Melissa Lotholz timed in 1:53.91. Austria's Christina Hengster and Sanne Monique Dekker were third in 1:54.30.
''Honestly, something comes up every competition. It's just the sport,'' said Greubel-Poser, who closed within 10 points of Humphries for the overall World Cup points lead after four of the season's eight races. ''Whether it's something malfunctioning at the start, or something else, it's just the sport. You have to roll with the punches.''
That was one of the lessons Gomer Lloyd taught her long ago, and his words rang particularly poignant to Greubel-Poser on Friday. Lloyd - a beloved figure in sliding - was a four-time Olympian for Britain and coached other nations for years until his death Sunday, and he worked with Greubel-Poser at her very first driving school at Lake Placid when she was transitioning from being a push athlete.
''He brought everyone together from so many different nations and I really felt this was a celebration for him this week,'' Greubel-Poser said. ''For me, this win was for him. I had some great experiences with him in Lake Placid, so it really means a lot to me.''
Holcomb and Valdes finished two runs in 1:51.00. Walther and Poser were second in 1:51.11 and Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo of South Korea - they were most recently working with Lloyd and didn't learn of his death until arriving in Lake Placid this week - finished in 1:51.12 and took the bronze.
Humphries was second Friday, and by all estimates will finish last in her next outing. For once, will be just fine with her.
Humphries will drive in the four-person race Saturday, racing a sled filled with women against a field of all-male teams. Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor of the United States - who isn't in this World Cup while she recovers from a concussion - started racing four-person sleds against men last season, but always with men pushing their sleds.
Humphries has been pushing for four-women sliding to become a reality, and hopes her lineup Saturday is a big step toward that goal. For now, ''women's'' bobsledding only has a two-person division. Men's bobsledding has two- and four-person divisions.
''Tomorrow will be exciting,'' Humphries said. ''Definitely going to be challenging. We've done two runs together and these girls have slid down together only two runs in their entire lives. It'll be fun and it'll be the start of something new.''
The sheer physics put Humphries at a huge disadvantage for Saturday. The men's sleds will carry somewhere around 300 pounds more than her sled will, meaning they will generate far more momentum - based on added mass and velocity.
''We want to go out and win, yes,'' Humphries said. ''The chance of us doing that is going to be 0.001 percent. At the end of the day, we're kind of racing in a league of our own.''