The Russian team of Alexander Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda won the gold medal on Monday in the two-man bobsled event at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The duo amassed a combined time of three minutes and 45.39 seconds.
R.J. Rico of NBCOlympics.com shared the news:
And that's it for the two-man bobsled competition. Russia's Zubkov runs away with the gold. Swiss Hefti second, Steven Holcomb third.— R.J. Rico (@RJRico62) February 17, 2014
The Swiss team of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann won the silver medal with a time of 3:46.05, just 0.66 seconds off the gold-medal pace set by the Russia-1 duo.
The big news for the Americans was the standout performance of Team USA’s Steven Holcomb with Steven Langton, who brought home the bronze medal with a time of 3:46.27, just 0.03 seconds ahead of Russia-2.
Nick Mathews of the Houston Chronicle and Rico commented on the Americans' success:
The United States' Holcomb and Langton earning a bronze medal was the nation's first medal in two-man bobsled since 1952.— Nick Mathews (@Nick_Mathews) February 17, 2014
By 0.03 seconds! Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton have become the first Americans to win a medal in the two-man since 1952— R.J. Rico (@RJRico62) February 17, 2014
Source: NBCOlympics.com and Sochi2014.com
Heat 1 on Sunday featured the Russian pair of Zubkov and Voevoda getting out to an early lead with a track record of 56.25 seconds. That elite performance from the home country set the tone for the rest of the event.
Team USA’s No. 1 and No. 2 two-man sleds ended the first heat in second and third, respectively. While USA-1 was able to hold on to a top-three spot after Heat 2—Switzerland-1 made a hard charge into second—USA-2 dropped all the way to 11th.
The second heat also saw Canada-3 and Russia-2 surging into contention for a silver and bronze medal.
After the first two heats of action, it was clear that Russia-1 was the favorite to win gold in this event. It was also clear that the amazing journey for the Jamaican bobsled team had hit a speed bump by starting Day 2 in 30th place.
Heat 3 featured the last chance to make the final 20 qualification spots in order to start in Heat 4. Unfortunately for the Jamaicans, the team failed to qualify.
Television host Bert Weiss commented on the Jamaican team and its unofficial theme song, which is sweeping the world:
As hard as it was to see Team Jamaica leave the competition, Heat 3 further proved the dominance of Russia-1, as the duo only added to its lead with another strong run. Switzerland-1 and USA-1 both held their spots in second and third, respectively.
That set up an epic fourth run to decide the medals.
USA-1 two-man bobsled pilot Steve Holcomb spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today about his feelings heading into the final day of competition:
I'm happy with the way things are going. Steve (Langton) pushed really well today. I drove well. The sled's running fast. ... We just don't know where we're losing time. We don't know the lines yet. We've only been down this track 40-some times. ...
... The hometown guy is going to be tough to beat. It'll be tough, but it's possible (to catch Zubkov). ... He's the most experienced driver on this hill. You can't sit there and expect him to make a mistake.
The two-man bobsled battle was an amazing showcase of the talents all the competing nations possess, but the competition is far from over in the sport.
Did the two-man competition live up to the expectations?
Team USA and Team Russia are expected to contend for medals in each of those events. Bobsled is one of the most exciting sports in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the excitement surrounding the competition will continue to grow with each heat. The results should also play a significant part in the final medal standings of this year's Winter Games.