Olympic Bobsled 2014: Preview and Predictions for Men's 2-Man Race
On Monday at the Sanki Sliding Center, the medalists in the men's two-man bobsled event will be determined after two additional runs down the track.
After Sunday's two runs, the host Russia sits atop the standings, but that could change with a solid performance in both runs by any of the other medal contenders.
Continue reading for a complete preview of the final day of two-man racing down the ice in Russia.
The men's two-man bobsled race consists of four heats, with all 30 sleds receiving an opportunity to earn an Olympic medal.
The lowest combined time from the four runs will earn the gold medal. Russia No. 1, Switzerland No. 1 and the United States No. 1 are the top medal contenders after the first two runs.
A country can enter up to three sleds, but only the United States, Canada and Germany have opted to do just that. Some nations, like Russia and Switzerland, have decided to to enter just two sleds, while others only have enough manpower for one team.
Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info
The third overall heat will start on Monday at 9:30 a.m. ET with the fourth heat following at 11:05 a.m. ET from the Sanki Sliding Center.
NBC will show the events on tape delay in prime-time television at 8 p.m. ET, but the event can be viewed live on NBCOlympics.com.
How Did We Get Here?
After the first two runs of the competition on Sunday, Russia No. 1 leads the way with a combined time of 1 minute, 52.82 seconds.
The two-man sled featuring Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda set a track record in the first heat with a time of 56.25 before settling for a 56.57 in the second heat.
Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann in the Switzerland No. 1 sled sit in second place with 32 one-hundredths of a second to make up.
The United States No. 1 sled driven by Steven Holcomb sits in third place, just four one-hundredths behind the Swiss sled.
Complete standings from the first two runs can be found here.
Can the Russian Dominance Continue?
After the first two runs, Russia No. 1 seems like the hands-down favorite to cruise to victory.
However, there is still a chance that Zubkov and Voevoda could slip up during one of their final runs with the pressure of the home nation stacked on their shoulders.
If that happens, the sleds behind them must be ready to pounce in an instant to snatch the lead away from them.
The United States Sled Powered by BMW
The United States' sleds for the 2014 Winter Olympics were made by BMW to create the maximum amount of speed and aerodynamics for a victory in Sochi.
Through two runs, the top American sled is in third place, with the two other sleds in 11th and 13th.
If the top U.S. sled falls out of medal contention on Monday, there will be plenty of talk around the BMW sled, just like there was with Under Armour's speedskating uniforms.
Can Anyone Take Down the Top Three?
Beneath United States No. 1 in third place, four sleds are within two-tenths of a second.
If any of those sleds in fourth through seventh place has a spectacular run or two down the ice on Monday, it could put the top three under an immense amount of pressure to make up time.
Who Are the Sleepers?
Russia No. 2
The sled piloted by Alexander Kasjanov sits just 11 one-hundredths of a second out of third place, and there is no doubt that he and brakeman Maxim Belugin will be inspired by the home crowd to do better in their third and fourth runs.
With a time difference that is not insurmountable by any means, expect the second Russian sled to challenge for a medal.
Germany No. 1
Germany dominated the luge competition earlier in the Games, and the proud nation will be searching for a medal in the two-man bobsled.
The Germany No. 1 sled of Francesco Friedrich and Jannis Baecker sits in seventh place at the moment, but with a strong showing on Monday, the gap to third of two-tenths of a second can be made up.
Who Is the Favorite to Win Gold?
The clear favorite to win is the Russia No. 1 sled driven by Zubkov.
With a strong advantage of 32 one-hundredths of a second over Switzerland No. 1, Zubkov and his brakeman Voevoda could bring home the second Russian gold on the sliding track after Alexander Tretiakov won the men's skeleton.
It would take a major mistake in either run for the top Russian pair to lose the lead—a mistake that right now can't be seen happening.
Complete Medal Predictions
Gold: Russia No. 1
Silver: United States No. 1
Bronze: Switzerland No. 1
Russia No. 1 will be the clear winner, but the race for the other two medal positions will be a thrilling one.
Separated by just four one-hundredths of a second, Switzerland No. 1 and United States No. 1 will be locked in a duel in the final two runs.
It will take a superb two runs to take down the Swiss, but United States No. 1 has a world-class driver in Holcomb, who will propel past the Switzerland team in the end.
For more coverage throughout the Olympics, follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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