2011-2012 in the news

 



Smooth Sleddin’

Posted by Wyatt Martin
Main Feature, Sports, Sports Main Feature Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

BSU Arbiter Online

Nick Cunningham

“Bobsled drivers’ eyes are always huge in pictures because we’re going 80-90 mph and we’re looking quite a ways out in front of us. By the time you realize what’s happening, it’s already passed you,” U.S. Olympic bobsledder and former Boise State sprinter, Nick Cunningham, said.

The idea of actually being able to think about your actions and movements is a luxury Cunningham cannot afford.
“You’ll see drivers, before we go down the mountain, we all do what’s called a ‘mind run,’ where you go down the track and you mimic driving it. A good driver can do this pretty much in the same time as what his down time will be. We can see every inch of the track in our minds while we’re doing this,” Cunningham said.

These “mind runs” are the best way for drivers and teams to visualize and plan for their runs, because once the sled is moving, drivers mainly have to rely on their instincts and reactions.
The very idea a Boise State sprinter would be piloting a bobsled and hoping to represent his country in the 2014 winter Olympics may seem a bit strange,  but

once you find out the type of person Nick Cunningham truly is, this leap into sledding may not come as such a big surprise.
The Monterey, Calif. native spent most days as a youth on a surfboard in the waters off the northern California Pacific Ocean. As a stand-out sprinter for the Broncos’ Track and Field team from 2005-07, Cunningham’s leadership qualities were recognized during his senior season, and he was named the team’s captain. After graduation, Cunningham wasn’t exactly planning on becoming a bobsledder.

“I just went out there to have some fun for the tryout,” Cunningham said. “If that didn’t work out, I probably would’ve continued running. But I can’t play the ‘who knows?’ game, because now I’m a winter Olympian and I’m on my way.  I can always go back to track if I want to.”

The transition from runner to sledder didn’t seem to hinder Cunningham competitively as he was picked up as a brakeman for one of the U.S. teams. Over the next two years he trained and became acclimated with the new sport, resulting in the opportunity to represent his country in the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia as a brakeman for the two-man bobsled event. “It’s the kind of experience I’ve wanted my entire life. And to have that as almost like a home game, right in my backyard was incredible. Walking in for the opening ceremonies hearing the United States of America and having USA on your back, that’s really what I’ve trained my whole life and given up and sacrificed a lot for—it made it all worth it,” Cunningham said.
The Olympic experience would not extinguish Cunningham’s competitive desire though, as he has made the jump from brakeman to pilot.
“Being a brakeman, you’re in charge of the power of the sled. You count the curves, at the bottom—you stop the sled,” Cunningham said. “A driver has to come in here and worry about the brakeman and the hit and the timing and the velocity of us getting into curve one.”
Cunningham said he doesn’t get nervous before runs. He feels more eager to get going. He takes a football mentality when going into a run.
“You’ve got to hit a 300-pound sled and go at a full sprint, then all of a sudden you got to jump in this thing and calm yourself down and realize what’s going on and be aware. You have to judge turns by inches—an inch can be the key to if you win a race or if you crash,” Cunningham said.
With an aggressive attitude toward competition and a fearless approach to his given sport (at the time) this former Bronco plenty to be proud of. And with the Sochi Winter Olympics coming in less than two years, there could be a lot more to be proud of yet.


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Former UCSB Sprinter to Pilot USA Bobsled in

2012 World Championships

By Joseph Tapiro
Published on February 22, 2012

From the track to the field to the ice, former UCSB sprinter and current USA rookie bobsled pilot Nick Cunningham had always known that he would one day represent his country at the Olympic Games, but he never envisioned the arduous path he would take to get where he is today.
Following a record-breaking sprinting career at UCSB, Nick shifted his focus to football at Monterey Peninsula College until once again returning to the track for Boise State University until his graduation in 2008.
While bobsledding began as a family joke, it ultimately became a life-changing experience for Cunningham. Nick’s worldly travels have thrown him his fair share of obstacles, but he held onto his childhood dreams and can now proudly say that he is, in fact, a U.S. Olympian.

First of all, congratulations on completing your World Cup season and once again being named to the Olympic team for the World Cup Championships. Is being an Olympian something you’ve always dreamed of?

Oh yeah. I mean, since I was a little kid I always thought I was going to be a track star ... go to the Olympics and the summer games. You know, things don’t always work out, but you got to make the best of a situation and I kind of switched my focus on another way to get there. One door closed and another one opened. I went for an open tryout, ended up getting a callback and 18 months later, walking into that opening ceremony. No matter if it’s summer games or winter games ... having that USA on your back is an unbelievable feeling. There’s nothing else like it.

Wow man, inspirational. For many like myself who have always wondered, how does it feel to travel around the world bearing the letters U-S-A across your chest? Empowering?

It really is; I mean, there’s honestly no other sense of pride. Wearing a jacket that says U.S. Olympic team or has big ole’ USA letters across your back while knowing that you’ve worked your entire life to earn that jacket, to earn those letters ... Anybody can




go out and buy a team USA jacket, but to actually have one given to you by your country, being able to wear that with pride ... I wouldn’t change it for anything.


You were a former track and football star in both high school and college. What ultimately led you to make the huge transition to bobsled?

I didn’t do a winter sport ever growing up ... I mean, I grew up surfing in central California ... I went snowboarding like once, but I never really saw the snow. I first came down for a track meet when I was at UCSB and we drove up ... right there in Santa Ynez Mountains and we watched the crew team practice one day. On the way back ... my mom kind of jokingly said, “Hey, looks like a bobsled run. You’re fast ... Aren’t sprinters, like, the best bobsledders?” Just as a joke I was like, “Yeah, you know that’s what I’m going to do after college.”

Well, we actually drove back to Monterey and my dad sent me a whole bunch of information on bobsled, the federation and the athletes. ... It was always kind of a joke, but I eventually transferred to Monterey Peninsula College, played football there and then eventually transferred to Boise State University, and once I graduated from there I was like, what am I going to do? When you graduate, everything stops because I’d had a routine the past five years of my life and now it’s done. I happened to go try out for the bobsled team, [did] something that not many have said they’ve tried out, and here we are.

How do the former skills from both of those sports translate over to the specific positions in bobsled?

I mean, it’s a different technique, but it kind of combines power and speed. ... Getting the sled off the block and kind of powering out ... it’s really got that football power but it’s also really like coming out of the blocks if you’re a sprinter. Those first few steps are all a drive phase, a sprint phase over the crest down until you jump on the sled. I figure the faster you are, the better you’re going to do. I had to gain a lot of weight for the sport ... I was a 165-pound sprinter and now I’m 210. I’m still really small for bobsled ... guys are usually 220 to 230.

Due to the fact that I’ve never had any experience in bobsled myself, whenever I hear the word ... the movie “Cool Runnings” comes to mind. Have you actually faced the “Jamaican bobsled team”?

It’s “Cool Runnings” — that’s exactly it! I can’t tell you how many cliché “Cool Runnings” comments I’ve gotten. It’s been to the point where I have befriended people. There is a Jamaican team that is competing this year and I mean, they are the funniest group of guys ever. They love it and we love having ’em around because the publicity we get through them is out of control. That’s pretty much how America knows bobsled ... by the Jamaicans.

Have you seen the movie?

Oh yeah, it’s one of those fun ones that ... after you do the sport and you watch it, you’re kind of like, “Aww, it kind of ruined the movie!” You start meeting the people that the characters are based on ... there’s a guy who was coaching in Park City, Utah, and he was the Jamaican coach. I just looked at him and was like, “If John Candy played me I’d be so mad! I’d be so angry!” He never got a gold medal stripped from him, he never ran off to Jamaica for drinking and all that ... he wasn’t a bookie. It kind of killed the movie for me, but it’s fun to watch every once in awhile.

Throughout your amazing journey, what would you say sticks out the most to you as a favorite memory or experience that you’ll never forget?

Walking into the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremonies were definitely the highlight of my career thus far. I mean, nothing will even be close to it. I was right in the middle, so right when I was walking in, you could hear the announcer say, “THE United States of America!” I walked into this giant stadium with 70,000 people losing their minds.

I’ve seen in a number of places that you represent your country in a different way by serving as a specialist for the National Guard. What is it like representing your country on two different levels?

It actually is the best of both worlds — it’s a program called the W-CAPS ... a world- class athlete program. It’s a program that kind of allows soldiers to compete and train ... In the season I can focus on training and working out and ... making it to the next Olympics. In the offseason, you know, it’s a 100 percent soldier, and that’s where we can make some money because we don’t get paid for being on Team USA; we have to self-fundraise and do whatever we can ... A lot of people actually have to leave the force because they can’t afford it. It’s a nice little way to kind of get a small paycheck just to keep me in long enough to keep my head above water ... you can’t beat it.

Is bobsled training and competition year-round job?

It is year-round. Of course, we don’t really do too much stuff in the summer, but we do have a push track that we get on the sled and work on timing and push technique. We’re in the weight room all summer long, on the track all summer long, working on getting bigger, faster. The guys that are out here right now are incredible ... We got some great push athletes. I’m just working on sleds and trying to make mine the fastest in the world. [I] work with the coaching staff ... making sure I’m on that next flight to Sochi in 2014.

How excited are you to compete this upcoming week?

Oh man. I mean, being a driver is a whole new ballgame. Just getting into that sled and knowing that ... I’m in charge of representing USA. I’m no longer brakeman; I’m now a driver and ... I don’t know, it hasn’t really hit me yet. I know these guys, I know the track, so I don’t think I’m nervous — I think I’m more anxious ... I want to get on the track ... I want to start competing.

After competing in this weekend’s two-man heat for the USA-3 team, Cunningham and his crew finished two-tenths of a second away from qualifying for medals. Cunningham is currently biting at the bit to represent the United States of America in this weekend’s four-man World Cup Championships on Feb. 25 and 26.


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Former Oldham/EKU Sprinter Dallas Robinson Finishes 9th at World Bobsled Championship

By Jonathan Grooms / February 22, 2012 1:16 AM



Former Oldham County and Eastern Kentucky University Sprinter Dallas Robinson finished 9th last weekend at the FIBT World Bobsled Championships in Lake Placid, New York. Robinson and his driver, Nick Cunningham were third amongst the Americans duos competing in the World Championships. KYtrackXC.com had Dallas answer some questions about his experience this past weekend in Lake Placid. He will compete in the 4 Man Bobsled this coming weekend in Lake Placid as well.


From http://bobsled.teamusa.org USA-3 of Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas
Robinson
(Georgetown, Ky.) wrapped up their World Championship debut with a ninth place finish. Cunningham shocked the field by posting the third fastest run of the second heat, and was again in the mix with some of the best teams in the world in the final. The duo posted starts of 5.18 and 5.14 for runs of 56.15 and 55.99 seconds, respectively, and clocked a four-run total of 3:44.35 for a top 10 finish.



What was your experience at the World Championships?

The week of World Championships was a long and challenging one. Every season we have a World Cup tour... usually 8 locations split between North America including Canada (Lake Placid New York, Park City Utah, Whistler Canada, Calgary Canada) and Europe (Altenberg Germany, Konigssee


Germany, St. Morizt Switzerland and Laplon France). The World Championships takes place at the end of each season non Olympic years and it's much like our Superbowl. Sure the regular World Cup season counts but World Championships mean so much more.

The World Championships are set up very similar to the Olympics. During a normal World Cup race you will have two heats of 2 Man Bobsled on race day and the following day you will have two heats of the 4 man Bobsled. The winner is determined in each discipline by your combined time two runs. However, World Championships is a bit different. Each discipline both the 2 man and 4 man are four heat races over the course of two days. Each heat downtime is added to
your cumulative time and that determines the winner. In the World Championship set up it pays to be consistent and keep your sled on all four runners. You cannot have just one fast run and be a top three finisher you must have four solid pushes and four solid runs to stay in the mix.

My driver Nick Cunningham had four consistent runs and duked it out with the Worlds best drivers to finish 9th overall just .01 behind a former World Champion Germany driver Manuel Machata. Did I mention that driver Nick Cunningham is only a 2nd year driver? In a sport like this a top 10 in the World finish with a 2nd year driver behind the reigns is un- heard of. Most drivers if not all drivers in the top 15 in the World have had at-least 5 years of driving experience. I myself as a push athlete have had less than ten competitions under my belt also which made for a huge challenge in putting together consistent top ten in the World Start times- ultimately we did though and we are very satisfied with the seasons 2 man Bobsled results.

How does it feel to be one of the best in the world?


I praise God every day to have the opportunity to compete whether win or lose. Nick and I really enjoy being on a team together. I have competed with Nick and pushed with Nick more than any other US driver. He and I make for a pretty good team. I wouldn't say I am one of the best pushers in the World nor would I necessarily say Nick is the best driver in the world. It's as if though our sum is greater than the individual parts. Team chemistry if you will. We want to win for our country, coaches, family, faith and each other. My motivation behind the sled is what allows me to compete on a high level.

What your goals coming up in the sport?

This past summer driver Nick Cunningham and myself both joined the US Army. We are very excited to be on the USA Bobsled team and we hope that we will get to both serve our country through military service and represent our country through being on the National team and traveling the World with USA on our uniforms and sled. The Army WCAP program is one of a kind! However, our commitment to the Army this past summer with 4 1/2 months of basic training and advanced individual training our training for bobsled took a step back. Typically an off season is full of heavy weight training, short speed work and eating tons nutrient dense food as where our summers were the complete opposite of that.

This past summer I was going on 6 mile runs in the South Carolina heat. I ate my lunches from an MRE bag and stayed in tents in a field for up to 5 days at a time. I am very excited to have gotten to experience all of this and my drive to serve our country is higher than ever because of my military training. This next summer my days will be filled with heavy weight room sessions, sled pushes and pulls, hill runs and all


you can eat buffets. I plan to come into next season physically prepared for the demands of the sport and fully expect to be a far better push athlete then I was this season.

How does your track background help you in preparation for the Bobsled?

Speed in the sport is very important. Deep acceleration angles mirror that of pushing a bobsled. More often than not the athletes who have a track and field back round have an advantage over those who do not. A faster athlete can run a sled a bit further down the start ramp prior to the sleds velocity exceeding their own. Having a skill set of a sprinter and the knowledge I have as a sprint coach and speed coach it will only help me compete in the sport.

If someone was interested in getting into Bobsledding after their track career, how would they do so.

As well as the track speed needed they would also have to have a large frame. 6'ft tall and 205lbs is as about as small as you're going to see out there. Usually guys are closer to the 6'2 230lb mark or larger. If you have the build for it then you simply go on the USA Bobsled website and fill out a recruitment form. From there you then will find a date and location the USA Bobsled team is having open Combine tests. The Combine is a series of 8 events with the maximum score being 800 pts. The test is a mixture of sprints, jumps and lifts. If you do well enough at a combine you then will be invited to Push Championships to see if you can show case your skills against the best in the US on the push track in Lake Placid, NY. Then if you fair well enough a driver will contact you and ask you to compete at team trials and lastly depending how you do at team trials (actual ice pushing and bobsledding.) You can make a team.


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Holcomb/ Langton crowned 2-man World Champions

Amanda Bird February 19, 2012

Photo: Pat Langton and Holcomb celebrate their win Holcomb and Langton crowned two- man bobsled World Champions

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Feb. 19, 2012)–Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) claimed the first two-man bobsled World Championship title ever for the U.S. in the 2012 contest for the crown. All three U.S. teams entered into the competition posted top nine finishes to cap a successful two-man season for the program.

“It feels phenomenal to be World Champion,” Holcomb said. “You know, we won the World Championships here in 2009 and it was great, but this is my first two-man title. I think that the hard work we put in during the off-season and all the work we’ve put in this season has really paid off.”

Holcomb started making history when he won the first four-man bobsled title in 50 years for the U.S. during the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, and then again made history by earning the first Olympic gold medal for the program in 62 years in 2010. His string of record-breaking runs continued today with world push champion Langton pushing him along.

“It is going to take awhile to sink in,” Holcomb said. “I am just really proud of my team.”

Langton has had a bumpy rise to the top. He emerged as one of the best athletes in the world when he started the sport five years ago, but several injuries kept him from making a run for USA-1. Langton burst back onto the scene last season to claim the world push championship title, and now he’s added world champion to his growing sliding resume.

“It feels pretty fantastic,” Langton said. “I have had some success, but to come out here and win my first big championship is pretty amazing. The feeling is really indescribable; it




honestly really hasn't sunk in yet. Steve did a really great job and our support staff couldn't be better. The U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Medicine staff, my strength coach Jason Hartman, and my teammates Justin and Curt and the rest of the U.S. team have just been really unbelievable, and they are a big part of this win.”

The last two-man bobsled World Championship medal for the U.S. was bronze earned by Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz in the 2009. Before that, Brian Shimer claimed bronze in 1997, and the most recent best effort for the program was a silver medal claimed by Garry Sheffield and Jerry Tennant in 1961.

The stands were vibrating as fans and family members cheered on USA-1 at the start with cowbells and horns. Holcomb and Langton blasted the Under Armour sled off the block in 5.07 seconds to lead the field from start to finish in the third heat. The crew started finals 0.12 seconds behind Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden, but Holcomb and Langton made up 0.32 seconds in the third run to take the lead.

Even with history on the line, Holcomb and Langton were relaxed before the final run. Langton posted, “#overthetop,” while Holcomb typed that he was “very happy with my first run, but the race isn’t over” on Twitter.

The crew stepped it up with a 5.03 start time and continued to gain time on the Canadians. Teammates cheered as the splits showed USA-1 picking up time, and the Under Armour crew crossed the line 0.46 seconds ahead for the win. After Holcomb and Langton hoisted the trophy in the air, they stepped off the podium and handed it over to Shimer.

“I drive the sled, Langton pushes it-I mean I help push it- but there are so many other people that go into the little things of the day to day operation of the team,” Holcomb said. “I know I gave Shimer a hard time about being in the garage that late, but he really did spend that much time out there making sure the sleds were perfect. We were in the garage late last night making some adjustments that we thought might help and you saw the first run and it worked out.”

Shimer handed the trophy back to Holcomb and looked bewildered to be a part of yet another historic moment in a sport he’s been involved with for over 25 years.

“I can’t say enough about Holcomb, he is just unbelievable,” Shimer said. “He is such a talented pilot and anything you throw at him he just seems to get down the hill quickly. This is just a really great moment for USA bobsled. A little more history being made.”


Holcomb and Langton’s historic title was won with a total time of 3:42.88. Rush and Lumsden earned silver with a four-run combined time of 3:43.34, while Germans Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske clocked an aggregate time of 3:43.43 for bronze.

National Guardsman John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Army soldier Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah) were ecstatic in the leader’s box as their final run bumped the Alamo team up a position into sixth place. The two-man crew’s third and fourth heat times of 56.05 and 55.93 seconds put their combined time at 3:44.12 for a top six result on their home track.

“We came into this race thinking that if we push really well maybe we can make it into eighth place,” Napier said. “We are really happy and pleased with a sixth place finish. We made some mistakes on the first three runs and on the fourth we just came together and gave it everything we had. We’re just ecstatic.”

Both solider-athletes served overseas following the 2010 Olympics- Napier six months in Afghanistan and Fogt one year in Iraq- and they felt honored to be representing not just the team, but their fellow soldiers.

“We were just talking about how we have the whole Army behind us,” Fogt said. “As two military athletes, we are really supported by the Army and think of ourselves as representing the USA and those guys, we don’t want to let them down.”


USA-3 of Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) wrapped up their World Championship debut with a ninth place finish. Cunningham shocked the field by posting the third fastest run of the second heat, and was again in the mix with some of the best teams in the world in the final. The duo posted starts of 5.18 and 5.14 for runs of 56.15 and 55.99 seconds, respectively, and clocked a four-run total of 3:44.35 for a top 10 finish.

“This is a good accomplishment, but the thing about athletes is that we are never satisfied and we always want more,” Cunningham said. “We got the third sled qualified for the U.S., but you always want to just go for more. I am proud of how far we’ve come this season, it seems like this is going to be a breakout season where people recognize the depth of the program with four solid USA sleds going into Sochi.”

Results:

1. Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton (USA) 3:42.88 (55.96, 55.75, 55.54, 55.63); 2. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 3:43.34 (55.71, 55.88, 55.86, 55.89); 3. Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske (GER) 3:43.43 (55.78, 56.02, 55.71, 55.92);...6. John Napier and Chris Fogt (USA) 3:44.12 (56.04, 56.10, 56.05, 55.93);....9. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 3:44.35 (56.29, 55.92, 56.15, 55.99)


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Holcomb and Langton in second after first day of


two-man bobsled World Championships

Amanda Bird February 18, 2012



Photo: Pat

Holcomb and Langton in second after first day of two-man bobsled World Championships

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Feb. 18, 2012)–Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Steve Langton (Melrose, Mass.) are 0.12 seconds from making history. Team USA-1 wrapped up the first day of men’s racing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in second position, and are on track to be the first U.S. team to win the two-man World Championship crown. The crew took a risk by competing in a different sled for the first time today, but Holcomb confirmed the risk was worth it.

“We’ve never won this title, so we had to change something up,” Holcomb said. “We just took a shot. If it worked, it worked and if it didn’t, it didn’t. Another quote that I’ve always lived by is ‘to win you have to risk loss,’ and if we lost today then at least we tried.”

The team started strong with a push time of 5.05 seconds, but Holcomb lost his grasp of a medal contending run after skidding through the chicane. Holcomb and Langton crossed the finish tied for fourth position with a time of 55.96 seconds, but the veteran duo wasn’t fazed by the result.

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager (518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com



“Huge mistake in the first run,” Holcomb tweeted from the start house before the second run. “Sitting in 4th. Got it figured out. Time to make my move.”

“I’m known for my tweeting,” Holcomb said. “The coaches hate it, but sometimes you’ve just got to get grounded and back to your normal life for a minute. I can’t just sit there for an hour and think about my first run. I had a mistake that cost me some time; I knew what I did wrong and how to fix it.”

Holcomb and Langton powered the Under Armour sled off the block in 5.02 seconds, just one-hundredth from the start record in the second run. USA-1 clocked the fastest run of the heat, 55.75 seconds, to gain two spots with a total time of 1:51.71. With two runs remaining, Holcomb and Langton are in silver medal position and within striking distance of the title.

“We’re going to go back and recover the best we can and come back out tomorrow and see what we can do,” Holcomb said. “It’s going to be some tough racing. The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, U.S. Olympic Committee, Olympic Regional Development Authority and the Olympic Training Center staff have all been really supportive by making sure we have everything that we need to win tomorrow.”

Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden currently lead with a combined time of 1:51.59, although they have an evening to worry about holding their lead against a hungry American team. Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske are the best hope for a German medal in the two-man event. They are currently in third with a cumulative time of 1:51.80.

National Guardsman John Napier (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Army soldier Chris Fogt (Alpine, Utah) put together a solid performance in the Alamo sled and will enter tomorrow’s final heats in seventh position. The pair pushed off the block in 5.18 and 5.20 seconds for runs of 56.04 and 56.10 seconds. Napier and Fogt were upset with their final run today, and hope to gain the 0.07 seconds that separates the crew from a top six result.

“We were pretty happy on the first run, and it feels good for us to be fast again and to be in the top ten,” Napier said. “We’re sliding well, but we’ve just got to fix a few things. I made an error at the top and that pretty much didn’t allow Chris to push any further down the ramp. So tomorrow we’ll correct that and hopefully be faster at the start.”


Even though USA-2 expressed their disappointment with the first day of racing, Napier and Fogt agreed that it was wonderful to be racing at home.

“It’s great to be back home,” Fogt said. “There’s lots of noise up top, lots of people cheering. It really helps us to get fired up with all the USA chants. It’s been awesome to have friends and family here to support us.”


USA-3 of Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) made their World Championship debut today and helped place all U.S. sleds in the top 10. Cunningham and Robinson were in a three- way tie for 10th after the first heat, and Cunningham drove like a champion to destroy the tie to claim the 10th position.

“The first run, we just threw out there to get our feet wet. The beauty of World Championships is that you get four runs,” Cunningham said. “The second run is really where we thought we would be, top ten, and it’s where we wanted to be going into tomorrow and the last two heats. Now its time to make a statement to the world and try to get up to top six.”

Although this is only Cunningham’s second season driving, he proved he’s a force to be reckoned with by posting the third fastest run of the second heat. The crew clocked the fastest speed of all 29 sleds, and will enter the finals with a two-run total of 1:52.21.

Results:

1. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:51.59 (55.71, 55.88); 2. Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton (USA) 1:51.71 (55.96, 55.75); 3. Maximilian Arndt and Kevin Kuske (GER) 1:51.90 (55.78, 56.02);...7. John Napier and Chris Fogt (US) 1:52.14 956.04, 56.10);...10. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 1:52.21 (56.29, 55.92);


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Seventh and ninth place finishes for World Cup rookies

Amanda Bird February 04, 2012

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager (518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Seventh and ninth place finishes for World Cup rookies

WHISTLER, Canada (Feb. 4, 2012)–Rookie pilots Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) capped the Whistler World Cup tonight with strong performances in the four-man bobsled race. Butner and Cunningham battled a field of experienced drivers and posted respectable finishes of seventh and ninth, respectively.

“I’m very happy,” Butner said. “Today was redemption day after yesterday’s two-man race. This is a fun track and you definitely have to drive. I made some mistakes in corner 13 all week, but I got it today. It definitely feels good.”

Butner teamed with Laszlo Vandracsek (Phoenix, Ariz.), Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas) and Caleb Pelger (Cleveland, Ohio) to lead the young U.S. team. The squad clocked starts of 4.91 and 4.90 seconds for runs of 51.96 and 52.05 to finish just one position behind Germany’s Manuel Machata, who earned bronze in the Whistler four-man race last season. USA-1 posted a combined time of 1:44.01 for seventh place.

“We were looking at the time sheet after the first run to see who we could catch, and we were only fourteen-hundredths out of fifth place,” Butner. “I wanted to sneak in there ahead of Machata. We weren’t able to gain any spots, but a seventh place finish on World Cup is something I can definitely be happy with.”





National Guardsman Cunningham made his four-man bobsled World Cup debut tonight with teammates Adam Blandford (West Chester, Ohio), Kevin Ives (Stafford, Va.) and Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.). USA-2 pushed off the block in 4.92



and 4.91 seconds for runs of 52.19 and 51.94 seconds. The team was in eighth position after the first heat, but they lost time against the British team piloted by John Jackson and dropped into ninth with a two-run total of 1:44.13.

“I’m so happy to have been given this opportunity to come out here and race,” Cunningham said. “I’m satisfied with how we did here, and now we move onto Calgary. I’ve already raced there on the America’s Cup tour this season, so I feel like I’m already a few steps ahead.”

Russia earned gold and silver in tonight’s race to display their strength leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in their home country. Alexander Zubkov led RUS-1 to the lead with a combined time of 1:42.46, while RUS-2 pilot Alexander Kasjanov trailed by 0.14 seconds for second place. Lyndon Rush claimed bronze for the host nation after clocking a combined time of 1:42.62.

Tonight’s race concludes the Whistler event, and action will continue in Calgary, Canada next week. Cunningham and Butner collectively claimed six medals during the America’s Cup races held in Calgary earlier this season and hope to improve on their performances in Whistler. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250.

Results:

1. Zubkov, Egorov, Trunenkov and Mokrous (RUS) 1:42.46 (51.21, 51.25); 2. Kasjanov, Moiseychenkov, Belugin and Hrenkov (RUS) 1:42.60 (51.32, 51.28); 3. Rush, Lumdsen, Sorensen and Wright (CAN) 1:42.62 (51.32, 51.30);...7. Butner, Vandracsek, Quinn and Pelger (USA) 1:44.01 (51.96, 52.05);...9. Cunningham, Blandford, Ives and Robinson (USA) 1:44.13 (52.19, 51.94);



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Cunningham teams with Robinson to finish ninth in World

Cup debut

Amanda Bird February 04, 2012

Contact: Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager (518) 354-2250, abird@usbsf.com

Cunningham teams with Robinson to finish ninth in World Cup debut

WHISTLER, Canada (Feb. 3, 2012)–Rookie pilots Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) put forth a solid effort in tonight’s two-man bobsled World Cup race in Whistler. Cunningham teamed with Dallas Robinson (Georgetown, Ky.) for his World Cup debut as a driver to lead the U.S. squad with a ninth place finish, while Butner and Johnny Quinn (McKinney, Texas) finished 15th.

“Most of these teams have never seen Cory and I before, so we had a lot to prove,” Cunningham said. “We wanted to make a statement to the world that we are here to compete and that there’s depth in the U.S. program.”

The last time Cunningham was on the Whistler track he was a brakeman for Mike Kohn at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The elite push athlete decided to try his hand at driving a sled following the Games, and secured 11 medals on the America’s Cup tour already this season.

“Competing here in the Olympics was a dream and it was the best time I’ve had in my entire life,” Cunningham said. “Coming back and following that experience with a top 10 finish as a driver feels amazing.”

Cunningham and Robinson displayed their power by bursting off the block with identical start times of 4.81 seconds in the two-heat race, and Cunningham led the crew to the finish with nearly matching finish times of 52.53 and 52.54 seconds.

“Our goal was to be one of the top teams in the push, and we did that,” Cunningham said. “Dallas rose to the occasion today and I think we made some other nations take note of us.

I put together the two best runs yet on this track during the race, so I’m excited to see what we can do in the four-man competition tomorrow.”

Competing against experienced Olympic and World Championship medalists, USA-1 was in the mix on one of the world’s toughest tracks. The crew’s cumulative time of 1 minute, 45.07 seconds put the team in ninth.

“It’s easy to succeed when you’re given the tools,” Cunningham said. “The coaches have really stepped up to help us and we have a great crew of push athletes here as well.”

Canadians Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden were victorious on their home track after clocking a total time of 1:44.14. Maximilian Arndt and Martin Putze from Germany trailed by 0.07 seconds to claim silver, while Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter secured bronze for Switzerland with a combined time of 1:44.36.

USA-2 pilot Butner teamed with Quinn for his first World Cup race of the 2011-2012 season. Butner, like Cunningham, spent the last few weeks learning the challenging Whistler course leading up to the seventh World Cup race of the season.

The pair pushed off the block in 4.88 and 4.90 seconds for respectable start times. Butner struggled from the mid portion of the track to the finish, but he posted consistent runs of 52.94 and 52.99 seconds to finish 15th with a combined time of 1:45.93.

“Cory and I will always battle each other out as long as we’re in the sport, and we really bring the best out in each other,” Cunningham said. “We’re so close that any one of us could lead on any given day. We push each other to succeed, and I think it strengthens the U.S. program.”

Bobsled drivers Steven Holcomb and John Napier opted to gain extra training time on the 2012 World Championship track in Lake Placid, N.Y., which allowed for the U.S. to enter Cunningham and Butner in the Canadian World Cup events. If the U.S. qualifies a third sled for World Championships, Cunningham or Butner will be entered.

The Whistler event concludes tomorrow night with the four-man bobsled competition, and you can watch the action live by visiting www.fibt.com. For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250.

Results:

1. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:44.14 (52.04, 52.10); 2. Maximilian Arndt and Martin Putze (GER) 1:44.21 (51.95, 52.26); 3. Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter (SUI) 1:44.36 (52.23, 52.13);...9. Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson (USA) 1:45.07 (52.53, 52.54);...15. Cory Butner and Johnny Quinn (USA) 1:45.93 (52.94, 52.99);





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CALGARY, Canada (Nov. 20, 2011)-A young U.S. team claimed eight medals in the second stop of the America’s Cup tour held on the 1988 Olympic track in Calgary. Entrants competed in a series of two races per discipline from Nov. 17-20 for their chance to claim gold.

“Our athletes proved that they are ready to go to a brand new track, take six or less runs and be on the podium,” said Rebecca Sorensen, U.S. skeleton coach. “I couldn’t be more proud of their effort and willingness to work together despite all of the challenges they face as self funded athletes.”

Women’s bobsled pilot Megan Hill (Woodstock, Ga.) claimed gold and silver medals, while men’s bobsled drivers Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) contributed six medals to the overall count. Five skeleton athletes and four additional bobsled pilots received honors for racing to a top-six finish. Race recaps for each of the five disciplines are below.

With two events completed and two to go, the U.S. has won 19 America’s Cup medals so far this season. There’s a one-week hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday before racing resumes in Lake Placid, N.Y. from Dec. 1-4.

Men’s Bobsled

Men’s bobsled pilot Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) teamed with rookie push athlete Kevin Ives (Stafford, Va.) for combined times of 1:55.00 and 1:54.15 to earn silver in both two-man competitions.

“Calgary has been giving me a pretty tough time,” Cunningham said. “The cold conditions have made the ice extremely hard, which challenges the lines I was taking in practice.”

Teammate Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) teamed with Caleb Pelger (Cleveland, Ohio) in the first race and Spencer Nix (Dallas, Texas) in the second competition for bronze medal finishes with two-run totals of 1:55.39 and 1:54.84.

Canadian Lyndon Rush claimed gold in the first race with a combined time of 1:53.21, while Canadian Chris Spring led the second competition by just 0.13 seconds with a total time of 1:54.02.

Youth competitors Jake Peterson (Princeton, Minn.) and Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) split races and piloted one two-man competition each during the Calgary event. Peterson teamed with Matt Senske (Bellevue, Neb.) for sixth place, while Bascue partnered with Jeremy Ware (Nashville, Tenn.) to finish sixth in the final race. Jay Noller (Park City, Utah) teamed with Hiter Harris (Richmond, Va.) to finish eighth and 13th.

Cunningham once again led the U.S. men by claiming gold and bronze medals in the four- man races held on Sunday. The up-and-coming pilot teamed with Adam Blandford (West


Chester, Ohio), Ware and Ives to lead the first competition by 0.27 seconds with a two-run total of 1:51.19, and a combined time of 1:51.43 in the second race for third place.

Butner and his team of Peterson, Nix and Pelger finished fifth and fourth with total times of 1:51.93 and 1:51.71, respectively. The second-year pilot struggled last week with injured sledmates and push bar malfunctions, but still posted top six finishes to help the U.S. squad gain points.

While Cunningham and Butner both want to win for personal reasons, they are reaching for the podium to gain points in an effort to qualify a third sled for 2012 World Championships, which will be held in Lake Placid this February. Cunningham and Butner are both in the running for piloting the third U.S. men’s sleds based on recent results.

“My guys have really stepped up knowing that our goal is to qualify that third sled for World Championships,” Cunningham said. “Cory and I are doing all we can to get as many points as possible. It feels great, but the job isn’t over yet. It’s a long season and anything can happen before February.”

Spring was behind in the first competition and could only muster third place on his home track, but he redeemed himself by claiming gold in the second competition. Yun Jong Won led his Korean sled to silver medal performances in both races.

Noller and his crew posted two sixth-place finishes, while Jimmy Shea (Park City, Utah) led his team to seventh in both races.

Men’s Two-Man Bobsled #1

1.Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumdsen (CAN) 1:53.21 (56.34, 56.87); 2. Nick Cunningham and Kevin Ives (USA) 1:55.00 (57.12, 57.88); 3. Cory Butner and Caleb Pelger (USA) 1:55.39 (57.36, 58.03);...6. Jake Peterson and Matt Senske (USA) 1:56.61 (58.05, 58.56);...8. Jay Noller and Hiter Harris (USA) 1:57.80 (58.46, 59.34);

Men’s Two-Man Bobsled #2
1. Chris Spring and Graham Rinholm (CAN) 1:54.02 (56.90, 57.12); 2. Nick Cunningham and Kevin Ives (USA) 1:54.15 (57.07, 57.08); 3. Cory Butner and Spencer Nix (USA) 1:54.84 (57.18, 57.66);...5. Codie Bascue and Jeremy Ware (USA) 1:55.48 (57.64, 57.84);...13. Jay Noller and Hiter Harris (USA) 1:56.72 (58.49, 58.23);

Men’s Four-Man Bobsled #1
1. Cunningham, Blandford, Ware and Ives (USA) 1:51.19 (55.48, 55.71); 2. Won, Kim, Kim and Kim (KOR) 1:51.46 (55.80, 55.66); 3. Spring, Wilkinson, Rinholm and Worden (CAN) 1:51.57 (55.75, 55.82);...5. Butner, Peterson, Nix and Pelger (USA) 1:51.93 (55.98, 55.95); 6. Noller, Harris, Coughlin and Senske (USA) 1:52.69 (56.41, 56.28); 7. Shea, Dollens, Thompson and Baker (USA) 1:52.74 (56.31, 56.43);





Men’s Four-Man Bobsled #2

1. Spring, Wilkinson, Rinholm and Worden (CAN) 1:51.04 (55.60, 55.44); 2. Won, Kim, Kim and Kim (KOR) 1:51.13 (55.70, 55.43); 3. Cunningham, Blandford, Ware and Ives (USA) 1:51.43 (55.73, 55.70); 4. Butner, Peterson, Nix and Pelger (USA) 1:51.71 (55.91, 55.80)... 6. Noller, Harris, Coughlin and Senske (USA) 1:52.46 (56.29, 56.17); 7. Shea, Dollens, Thompson and Baker (USA) 1:53.10 (56.55, 56.55);



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PARK CITY, Utah (Nov. 12, 2011)-The U.S. team combined forces to claim 11 medals in the first America’s Cup event of the season at the Utah Olympic Park. Entrants in each of the five disciplines competed in two races to kick off the 2011-2012 international competitive season.

“Overall, our team did a great job fighting for the podium each run,” said Mike Dionne, U.S. bobsled coach and former national team pilot. “Being involved in the sports again definitely gets the competitive juices flowing, and it’s been a lot of fun rejoining Team USA. Our athletes made us proud this week.”

Competitions began on Wednesday and concluded this morning. The U.S. squad claimed one gold, five silver and five bronze medals to start the tally of America’s Cup medals this season. Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) and Megan Hill (Woodstock, Ga.) navigated their sleds to two bronze medal finishes in women’s bobsled, while men’s bobsled pilots Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) contributed eight medals to the overall count. Men’s skeleton up-and-coming rookie Mike Delleman (Oregon, Wisc.) earned silver while several skeleton athletes posted top six results. Recaps for each of the disciplines are below.

Men’s Bobsled

Nick Cunningham (Monterey, Calif.) and Kevin Ives (Stafford, Va.) contributed two silver medals to the overall count by finishing second in the two-man events, finishing just ahead of teammates Cory Butner (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Chuck Berkeley (Walnut Creek, Calif.) who won bronze both days.

“Cory and I always manage to battle it out,” Cunningham said. “He’s been driving great and it’s nice to have someone that always pushes me to my best every race. I’m happy that the season has started and that Cory and I get to race head-to-head all season for the chance to race in the 2012 World Championships.”

The team hopes to qualify a third sled for World Championships, which the U.S. hosts in Lake Placid this February. Cunningham and Butner will battle for points throughout the America’s Cup tour for the chance to pilot that sled.

Canadians Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumdsen broke the start record during the second run of the first competition by just 0.01 seconds after clocking 4.77 seconds in the second heat. The Jamaicans set the former record at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Kripps and Lumdsen went on to win both America’s Cup two-man races.

“It’s always tough to compete against the best athletes in Canada, especially when they break a nine year old start record,” Cunningham said.

Jake Peterson (Princeton, Minn.) teamed with Phil Miller (Spartaburg, S.C.) for eighth and ninth place finishes, while Jay Noller (Park City, Utah) and Hiter Harris (Richmond, Va.) finished sixth and 10th.



Four-man bobsled competition took place Friday and Saturday where the U.S. claimed four additional medals. The jury decided to call Saturday a one-heat race due to a severe snowstorm that swept through the Utah Olympic Park, giving athletes just one chance to vie for the medals in the final race of the event.

Butner teamed with Berekely, Spencer Nix (Dallas, Texas) and Adam Clark (Owenton, Ky.) to win the first four-man race.

“Four-man was a good bounce back from two-man,” Butner said. “I beat myself in those races. I just made stupid mistakes and was overdriving. I’m really happy with how the four-man races went, and now I’m looking ahead to doing better in Calgary.”

Butner returned this morning ready to fight for gold again with his team of Nix, Clark and Caleb Pelger (Cleveland, Ohio), but the team could only muster third place under unpredictable conditions due to the storm.

Cunningham teamed with Ives, Adam Blandford (West Chester, Ohio) and Jeremy Ware (Nashville, Tenn.) to claim silver both days.

Kripps took advantage of the storm to wedge his way into first to claim his third gold medal of the America’s Cup series.

Noller drove his team to fifth and seventh place finishes, while Jimmy Shea (Park City, Utah), Olympic skeleton gold medalist turned bobsled pilot, navigated his sled to 11th in the first race and was disqualified in the second competition for not having all four competitors in the sled. The brakeman slipped at the start and did not load the sled.

Men’s Two-Man Bobsled #1

1. Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:38.70 (49.32, 49.38); 2.Nick Cunningham and Kevin Ives (USA) 1:38.94 (49.33, 49.61); 3. Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:39.16 (49.47, 49.69);...6. Jay Noller and Phil Miller (USA) 1:40.70 (50.15, 50.55);...8. Jake Peterson and Matt Senske (USA) 1:41.19 (50.49, 50.70);

Men’s Two-Man Bobsled #2
1. Justin Kripps and Jesse Lumsden (CAN) 1:38.68 (49.36, 49.32); 2. Nick Cunningham and Kevin Ives (USA) 1:39.10 (49.64, 49.46); 3. Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley (USA) 1:39.27 (49.46, 49.81);...9. Jake Peterson and Phil Miller (USA) 1:41.03 (50.57, 50.46); 10. Jay Noller and Henry Harris (USA) 1:41.26 (50.80, 50.46);

Men’s Four-Man Bobsled #1
1. Butner, Nix, Clark and Berkeley (USA) 1:37.76 (48.83, 48.93); 2. Cunningham, Blandford, Ives and Ware (USA) 1:37.90 (48.98, 48.92); 3. Kripps, Lumsden, McNaughton and Demetre (CAN) 1:37.94 (48.86, 49.08);...5. Noller, Pelger, Senske and Harris (USA) 1:38.81 (49.32, 49.49);...11. Shea, Thompson, Baker and Dollens (USA) 1:40.09 (50.02, 50.07);





Men’s Four-Man Bobsled #2

1. Kripps, Lumsden, McNaughton and Dementre (CAN) 51.06, 2. Cunningham, Blandford, Ives and Ware (USA) 51.08, 3. Butner, Nix, Clark and Pelger (USA) 51.12;...7. Noller, Miller, Senske and Harris (USA) 51.82;...11. Shea, Thompson, Baker and Dollens (USA) DSQ;