LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Utah Army National Guardsman Shauna Rohbock and her teammate Elana Meyers added World Championship silver medalists to their sliding resume Feb. 21 in the women's bobsled event here at the Olympic Sports Complex.
"It's really hard to have four consistent heats," said Rohbock. "This track changes a lot, so you have to constantly change your driving. My goal was to be on the podium here, so I'm happy. This is my home track, and I wanted to be on the podium more than anything."
Team Rohbock was in the lead entering today's final two heats, and nabbed the silver medal with a four-run combined time of three minutes, 48.60 seconds. Rohbock navigated her Bo-Dyn sled down the 20-curves of the winding course in 57.12 and 57.43 seconds for the third and fourth runs.
Meyers and Valerie Fleming have alternated as push athletes in Rohbock's sled throughout the season. Rohbock most recently won gold with Meyers on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, British Columbia, and coaches made the difficult decision to place Meyers in Rohbock's sled for the World Championship event.
Fleming claimed the 2006 Olympic silver medal with Rohbock, and strained her vocal chords cheering with excitement as team USA I crossed the finish line in the final heat.
"It's awesome that we have this kind of depth of push athletes," said Rohbock. "It will be a fight for the four or five push athletes we have to be in the two sleds going to the Olympics."
Meyers helped push Rohbock to the third and second fastest start times of the day, 5.68 and 5.59 seconds. Out of respect for her teammate, Meyers placed a piece of medical tape on the back of her helmet which had "4 Val" written in black marker.
"Valerie is one of my best friends," said Meyers. "It was important for Shauna and Valerie to push together in this race, so I felt like it was important for me to do something for them. I gave everything I had to get us on the podium."
In the men's competition, former Utah Guardsman Steven Holcomb teamed with Curt Tomasevicz to claim bronze in the two-man bobsled World Championships.
"I just won my first World Championship medal," said Holcomb. "I'm really excited, but of course I wish it was gold."
Holcomb entered today's final two heats in fourth position, but immediately moved into medal position in his first heat with a run of 55.41 seconds. Holcomb and Tomasevicz dug their sled out of the start with a push time of 5.16 seconds in the final heat, and Holcomb kept the crowd on edge as his splits fell behind the previous sled.
"The top was exactly the same in all four heats, and exactly wrong," said Holcomb. "I guess it was good that I was consistent, but it'd be better to be consistent right than consistent wrong."
Holcomb was four-hundredths of a second out of the medals exiting corner 14, but made up a tenth of a second before crossing the finish line in 55.79 seconds for his first ever World Championship medal.
"This was huge for us, and I'm really happy," said Holcomb. "I knew I needed to come out and give it my all to stay in the mix. I made mistakes. It happens."
Vermont National Guard Pfc. John Napier teamed with T.J. Burns to finish 17th with a combined time of 3:45.17 after sliding runs of 56.25 and 56.37 seconds. Napier has been battling the flu throughout the week, but managed to muster push times of 5.37 and 5.33 with Burns.
"My legs aren't under me yet," said Napier. "T.J. did as much as he could to help me, but I had nothing left. I'm hopeful for next week, and I think four-man will go well. I'm starting to feel better, so my first goal is to get healthy."
In the team event, the U.S. men and women combined forces to claim bronze in the World Championship team event Feb. 22 here at the Olympic Sports Complex to conclude the first weekend of competitions.
The U.S. has won three medals in all three events so far, including silver and two bronze.
"We've had a solid start to the world championships," said Darrin Steele, U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation CEO. "Our athletes and coaches expect to be fighting for a gold medal in every event, and we have good momentum going into next weekend."
Four disciplines - men's skeleton, women's bobsled, women's skeleton and men's two-man bobsled - took one run each for their respective nations. The team with the lowest combined time was declared the winner.
The U.S. entered two teams into the event, and both finished in the top six results. Team USA I claimed bronze with a combined time of three minutes, 45.66 seconds.
Eric Bernotas kicked off the competition in the men's skeleton field, finishing with a time of 54.90 seconds. Rohbock and Fleming slid the second heat in the women's bobsled discipline, and crossed the finish in 57.67 seconds. Katie Uhlaender slid a run of 57.00 seconds in women's skeleton, and the men's two-man bobsled team of Holcomb and Justin Olsen secured the bronze medal with a run of 56.09 seconds.
"This helps set the tone for us," said Bernotas. "We have a lot of great sliders on this team, and it makes it exciting. Everyone is really enjoying it, and we feed off one another. This is a great opportunity to challenge us and to get us into race mode."