The Associated Press KRASNAYA POLYANA (AP)— Winless in the last three years in two-man bobsledding, Alexander Zubkov picked the perfect time and place to put that streak to an emphatic end.
At the Olympics. On home ice.
No one was even close, either.
The 39-year-old Russian—who carried his nation’s flag into the opening ceremony to start the Sochi Games—found magic in all four of his runs, teaming with Alexey Voevoda to finish 0.66 seconds ahead of the Swiss team of Beat Hefti and brakeman Alex Baumann and win the gold medal Monday night.
And it was a night 62 years in the making for the United States, with the pairing of Steven Holcomb and Steve Langto taking the bronze, the first two-man medal showing by an American sled since 1952.
It wasn’t gold, but it was a medal savored by the Americans nonetheless. Holcomb wrapped U.S. coach Brian Shimer in a long embrace when he got out of his sled, as several teammates slapped each other on the back.
“Man, thank God,” said Holcomb, who raced through a strained left calf that required treatment Sunday and Monday. “There was a lot of pressure on me there.”
Zubkov’s last victory in an international two-man race was at the 2011 world championships. He’d been 0-for-25 since, yet led this competition wire to wire, even though his two closest challengers have consistently been faster during the past three seasons.
Head-to-head against Zubkov in two-man races since the start of the 2011-12 World Cup season, Holcomb had been 13-9. Hefti had simply owned the Russian, going 19-2.
Meanwhile, Germany, which had won the last three gold medals in two-man, had its top sled finish eighth, the worst showing for the sliding power in the event since 1956.