US Starts 4-Man Bobsled Training, With Some Optimism
If there was a positive that the Americans took away from the two-man bobsled competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics, it's this: They now know what not to do.
Knowing what to do is still a work in progress.
So the U.S. men returned to the ice Wednesday for the first day of official training for the four-man competition — desperate to figure out a course that has largely befuddled them to this point. Four-man is the final sliding event in Pyeongchang, with two runs on Saturday and two more before the cauldron gets extinguished on Sunday.
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"A really good day," U.S. pilot Codie Bascue said. "We had some things we wanted to fix from two-man because two-man didn't go as well as planned. But we had two really solid runs today. That'll give us some confidence for the rest of the week."
Any confidence boost would be helpful. The U.S. placed 14th, 21st and 25th in the two-man competition.
"Two-man, I can't do anything about it now," U.S. pilot Nick Cunningham said. "I have to put that behind me, but I can definitely take what I learned and apply it to four-man. I have no runs here. I don't really know what it feels like here. There are 15, 20 runs that I was offered (last fall) that I wasn't sent to do and it's showing right now."
Cunningham has taken 12 official trips down this track since arriving for the Olympics — six in two-man training, four more in the two-man race, and two in his four-man sled. He'll get four more before the race starts this weekend.
That's not a lot of time, so he knows he's got to be a fast learner. The thing he's been working on most is figuring out Curve 2, which he struggled with in the opening run of two-man and went plummeting down the standings.
"My Olympics were over in Curve 2," Cunningham said of the two-man race. "It's over. You're sliding the whole way down the track saying: 'It's over. What do I do now?'"
That answer is simple: Go back to work.
Justin Olsen was the top U.S. pilot in two-man, and he said the addition of some well-rested pushers for the four-man mix will be a significant boost. Carlo Valdes, Nate Weber and Chris Fogt all were held out of the two-man event, so they're as fresh as can be to join Olsen for four-man.
"I would say they've felt a little caged up, but today they got out of the cage," Olsen said.
That foursome finished a solid ninth in a World Cup race at Koenigssee, Germany, last month.
"Game-plan wise, nothing really changes," Olsen said. "The dynamic with Carlo, Nate and Chris came together in Koenigssee. I know that I'm going to feed off their energy. We've really been hammering four-man this year and my confidence level is still going up. I think with these guys behind me, I'm excited and confident."
There was a sense the Americans were a bit tentative in two-man. Bascue insisted that won't be the case in four-man.
"Go all out. Don't hold anything back," Bascue said. "We're at the Olympic Games. End of the quad, end of the year. Let's go all-out and see what we can get."
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