Soldiers shine in early-season World Cup bobsled competitions
December 18, 2006
By Tim Hipps
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 18, 2006) - Sgt. Shauna Rohbock and Spc. Steve Holcomb won back-to-back gold and silver medals, respectively, during the first two weeks of the 2006-07 World Cup bobsled season.
Rohbock teamed with Valerie Fleming to win their first career World Cup gold medal in the season-opening, two-woman race Dec. 1 in Calgary, Alberta. The duo struck again and set a course record Dec. 8 in Park City, Utah, to remain unbeaten through the first two stops on the World Cup circuit.
Holcomb teamed with Brock Kreitzburg of Akron, Ohio, to win silver medals in both of the two-man races - the first two medals Holcomb has won in World Cup competition.
Both Soldiers are members of the Utah National Guard who competed at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy - Holcomb as a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and Rohbock represented the National Guard Outstanding Athlete Program.
Rohbock and Fleming, silver medalists in Torino, lowered Utah Olympic Park's track record with a time of 48.73 seconds, eclipsing the mark of 48.81 set by then WCAP Spc. Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers, who combined to win the first Olympic gold medal in women's bobsledding at the 2002 Winter Games.
At the 2006 World Cup season opener, Rohbock, of Orem, Utah, teamed with Fleming, of Foster City, Calif., on runs of 56.94 and 57.32 seconds to prevail with a winning time of 1 minute, 54.26 seconds at Canada Olympic Park. The German duo of Cathleen Martini and Janine Tischer was second in 1:54.95. Olympic and world champion Sandra Kiriasis of Germany and teammate Romy Logsch finished third in 1:54.98.
"It's a great start to the season and it's very good for Shauna's confidence," Team USA women's coach Sepp Plozza said. "The women's field is small, but the fastest pilots are here."
In the two-man competition at Calgary, 2006 Olympians Holcomb and Kreitzburg finished only .56 seconds behind Germany's Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske, both double gold medalists in the 2006 Olympics. The American pair had two of the quickest starts of the day.
"It was a bit of a surprise - obviously a good surprise - with Holcomb winning his first World Cup medal ever," U.S. men's bobsled head coach Brian Shimer said. "Usually two-man hasn't been his strongest discipline, but it's showing that he's really maturing into a great pilot."
In the four-man event at Calgary, Holcomb drove Team USA to a fifth-place finish.
"I'm pretty happy with the way the weekend went," Holcomb said. "All week we've been doing pretty well training and things kind of came together in the two-man. It's a great way to start the year."
Holcomb and Kreitzburg repeated as two-man silver medalists a week later in Park City, where they teamed with Jesse Beckom and Alex Sprague aboard USA1 for a sixth-place finish in the four-man event.
"Having my best finish ever here in front of my home crowd and my family is really cool," said Holcomb, a native of Park City. "All of a sudden it just clicked. Things are coming around and now we're going fast. I am surprised that my two best finishes ever are in two-man. I never would have guessed that."
"It's exciting to be a part of it and to see Holcomb progress," Kreitzburg added. "He's really stepping up and driving well in two-man. Steve is getting more and more confident every week, and with him driving well, hopefully we'll also be able to do really well in four-man."
The World Cup competition at Park City will be televised by SPEED Channel on Dec. 16, 17, 23 and 24. The men's and women's skeleton races will air Dec. 16, with the women's bobsled set for Dec. 17. Men's two-man and four-man bobsled coverage is set for Dec. 23 and 24, respectively. Coverage will begin at 1 p.m. EST each day.
World Cup bobsled competition is scheduled to resume Dec. 15-17 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
(Tim Hipps writes for the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs.)