Friday, January 15, 2010

Only 2 Hours

Welcome to Europe Team Night Train…

Right now we are in Germany preparing for our second race on European soil. It’s always harder to compete over here than it is in the States and it’s not because of jetlag. One reason, a big reason, is that 3 of 5 races are on German tracks. There is no other sport (well, outside of the sliding sports bobsled, skeleton, and luge) in the world where the home team has such an advantage. No track in the world is the same, each one is completely different and the only way to figure out how to go fast is by practicing on each one.

Think about this for a second. Bobsledding is no different than any other sport. If you want to get better you have to practice, the more you practice the better you’ll get. If you want to be a better basketball player what do you do? You go out to the gym and practice shooting the basketball for a couple hours a day. After a week of that your shooting percentage is going to be much better than when you started, seems pretty straight forward.

Here’s the catch. I only get to practice bobsledding for just over 2 hours a year. How is that you ask? Well, each run down the track takes around a minute depending on which track you are at. Let’s make it simple and average it at 60 seconds per run. The World Cup Circuit rules only allow for 2 runs a day in practice, and 3 days of practice; 6 minutes total. There are 2 days of racing which adds another 4 minutes. So I get to practice bobsledding 10 minutes a week. After an 8 week circuit I’ll that’s a whopping hour and 20 minutes of practice before the Olympics. Throw in 4 weeks of training before the competitive season starts and it comes out to just over 2 hours. What would happen if the USA Basketball team practiced for only 2 hours before the Olympics?

So, back to what I was saying about home track advantage. I mentioned that no track in the world is the same, each one is completely different. I’m preparing to go down a bobsled track in Germany that the Germans have had hours of training on during this season alone….I have 6 minutes. It’s going to be a tough weekend.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Captain Freeman

Birth: June 13, 1975 in Bakersfield, California

Death: January 20, 2007 in Karbala, Iraq

Capt Brian S. Freeman of Temecula, California was a 1993 graduate of Torrey Pines High School and a 1999 graduate of West Point then joined the active-duty Army for a five-year stint. After serving as an armor officer in Fort Knox, Ky., Freeman entered the United States Army’s World Class Athlete Program based in Fort Carson, Colorado. He was a national-caliber bobsled and skeleton racer and competed in bobsled, earning a bronze medal in four-man bobsled at an America’s Cup race in December of 2002, one month after finishing fifth and sixth in a two-man America’s Cup competition. During his bobsled days, he became acquainted with Park City’s Steve Holcomb, a 2006 Winter Olympian and the current leader on the World Cup circuit. His awards include two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, a National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He also earned Combat Action, Air Assault, Parachutist and Marksmanship Qualification badges, said a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina He was killed in action during an insurgent ambush in Karbala, Iraq at age 31. Four other’s died in the same attack. They are, Sgt Jonathan Chism , Pfc. Shawn Falter , Pfc. Johnathon Millican and Lieut. Jacob Fritz. Cremated, to be interred Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lending A Hand To Hoist Gold

I recently came across an article that I had to share. Yes, this is another post that I didn't write, but it's something that every family member, friend, or fan should read. It will help clarify a very important subject among Olympic athletes.


Here it is:

Lending A Hand To Hoist Gold

Olympic athletes need help meeting financial demands

By Kevin Montford

Who watched the men’s 400-meter freestyle swimming relay during the Olympics? I was jumping out of my seat with my hand raised like a young first grader!
These same events and incred
ible stories of our athletes are what made me, as a skinny 12-year old, tell my parents and all of my friends, “I want to be an Olympian when I grow up.”
I chased this dream until just a few years ago and heck, with all of this Olympic spirit going on, I still have not given up at the age of 35. Can you say Dara Torres? Our athletes provide us with daily motiva
tion to get up and be active, to go that extra mile and be the best we can be. They provide role models for our youth and good ol’ American pride.
I believe most Americans have a misconceived notion that our Olympic athletes make large sums of money by doing what they do. This is just not the case. I would guess that 85 percent of the ath
letes make less than $15,000 a year and spend close to this to compete in their sport. Travel, equipment, coaching and nutritional needs are expenisve! While the US Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies provide support in the form of training facilities, room and board, coaching, and small stipends, compensation only for the very few athletes that can survive the extremely tough selection criteria year in and year out. Even with all of this they often come up short and must rely on parents and friends for support or work part-time jobs to help with financial demands needed to train and compete at this high level. I’m not saying that all athletes should be supported. The world of sports is cutthroat and the Olympic world is no exception. But there are a number of very talented athletes out there that don’t have the support structure that others do. Should they be forced to drop out because the economic playing field isn’t as level as the competitive field? We love to watch every two years and hear the stories of athletes overcoming adversity to triumph. There’s enough of a challenge in getting up every day, year after year, and going to practice. Qualified athletes shouldn’t also have to worry about how they’re going to eat at the end of the day.
As Americans, we need to step up and stand by our athletes because when they win, we all win.
By coming together as a country through both public and corporate support, we can continue our great Olympic traditions.
We can be proud to have been a part of the incredible journey these athletes take on their way to becoming Olympians, as support is needed years before the
medals are won.
America For Gold is a new nonprofit created by athletes for athletes.
We want to bridge the gap between what support is given and the support that is needed for all of our athletes, not just the stars of a select few sports. We are calling on America to join us in supporting qualified athletes by donating just $8 a month for one year.
This money will be given directly to athletes through need based grants, allowing all of our athletes to train and compete at the highest level and ensure they continue to come home with the gold!
For more information or to make a donation you can go to our Web site at www.AmericaForGold.org or call 719-473-4488

Thank you,
Well said.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

SUMM3R.COM

I have some good news, well, more like COOL news. I guess it's good too, but it fits better under the Cool category. I was recently featured on an independent site called summ3r.com (for those of you that don't understand "Leet Speak" the #3 stands for an E). It looks better if you put it like: SUMM3R.COM. Can you see it? If not, here is another example, The sport I participate in is called: 808513|). So I am called a 808513|)|)3|2. 8=B 0=O 5=S 1=L |)=D |2=R Can you see how it works? No? Well, then nevermind.

Anyway, I was recently posted on their site because I'm an "Olympic Blog". They are dedicated to posting ONLY Olympic stories. Especially now because the 2008 Olympic Games are less than 3 days away. So, I have to say that if you are looking for information, or just want to read news about the Olympics, then SUMM3R.COM is the place to go; it's the DIGG of the Olympic Games. Not only do I tell you this because I was featured, but I plan on returning to find out what is going on over there. (plus, it's cool to see my blog posts on there ;)

So, head on over, check it out, and support our team! GO USA!!

Until next time,

-Holcomb

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Every Friend and Family Member Should Know About Olympians

How To Train Like An Olympian
by Allison Van Dusen, Forbes.com 07.08.08, 6:00 PM ET

Ever watch an Olympic athlete row, run or ride across the finish line of an event and think to yourself, "I could do that"? If so, you've likely never met an Olympian, let alone spent a week in his or her sneakers.

It's not just that most Olympians are born with a certain set of physiological gifts, although that's a big part of it. It's also their commitment to their sports and, perhaps most important, the way they train.

"People don't know the process which [athletes] undertake in their individual sports to reach the Olympic level," says Jim Ochowicz, who competed in the 1972 Olympic Games and coached the 2000 and 2004 USA Olympic men's professional road racing team. "You get there by sticking it out. There [are] a lot of people that try and give up."

In fact, while there are exceptions, coaches and trainers say it's common for athletes to invest four to eight years training in a sport before making an Olympic team. When it comes to running, it may take that long just to develop the aerobic base necessary to compete as a world-class athlete, says Terrence Mahon, the head coach for Team Running USA, which is sending members Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall to Beijing this summer. That entails maximizing lung capacity, heart strength and lactate tolerance (your ability to continue performing as your muscles are flooded with lactic acid and you hit the wall).

With that in mind, many Olympic athletes plan out their training schedules annually and up to four years in advance to make sure they reach specific performance goals. While their plans may not include exact details on how many repetitions they should complete on a Tuesday in February, they do designate periods of rest and intense workouts, says Steve Bamel, strength and conditioning coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Particularly in the lead-up to the games, athletes also specifically train to prepare their bodies for the types of conditions they'll face during outdoor events. In Beijing, that's projected to be temperatures in the 80s with up to 80% humidity.

To make sure they hit their targets, athletes training at one of the U.S. Olympic Training Center's facilities also frequently meet with a team--usually including a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, sports medicine specialist and coach--to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly tweak their diets, overloading and recovery techniques. If, say, an athlete's body composition doesn't measure up to standard, more fitness sessions will be added to their schedule, Bamel says. Athletes feeling fatigued may have their iron levels examined.

Those who make it to the games have to be mentally tough, too. Frequently separated from their families to train or compete in national and international events, they've got to juggle their demanding training schedules and personal lives. Since many athletes don't have sponsors to help cover their daily expenses, some also have side jobs or careers.

"In this country ... most of these athletes have a lot of professional opportunities," says Chris Wilson, a former U.S. Team Coach who worked with the U.S. Women's Rowing team leading up to the 2004 Olympics and an adviser for rowing-machine manufacturer Concept2. "Their quality of life as an elite athlete is usually below what they could be achieving if they followed a professional career track."

They've also got to be able to beat out their best friends, the people they regularly train with year in and year out, for a spot on the Olympic team.

That's where the benefits of preparing and executing a training plan come in--so when the pressure mounts, athletes will feel reassured that they've done enough lifting and speed work, Mahon says. Many athletes also use visualization techniques to picture exactly how they want to carry out a race.

And, if you want to train like an Olympian, be prepared to go to bed at the same time as the kids. Athletes aiming for the games need to sleep anywhere from eight to 10 hours a night, often followed by a 30- to 90-minute siesta, says Mahon. Resting is crucial because it gives the body a chance to rebuild tissue and muscle that's been broken down during training.

In other words, training like an Olympic athlete is more than a full-time job. But, of course, the benefits can be golden.

In Pictures: How To Train Like An Olympian


Read the original post here

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Heat

Most people don't know that bobsledding is a year-round sport. In fact, most people don't even realize that there are competitions outside of the Olympic Games. Oh well, it's not their fault, it's hard to compete against the professional sports.

Anyway, since bobsled training isn't exactly common knowledge, I'd like to try to clear some stuff up. The first thing to understand is that in the summer we train, in the winter we compete. Summer training mainly consists of lifting a lot of weight, and running a lot of sprints. You can do it pretty much anywhere which is why athletes train all over the country and not necessarily near a bobsled track (we especially like warm climates like It's a cold job, but somebody's gotta do it.San Diego).

So, next time you come across a bobsledder in a random place, you'll understand and won't make a weird comment like, "There's no snow in San Diego, why are you here?" or "How can you train here, there isn't a bobsled track?".

I don't want to use up all of my blog ideas on the first one, so I'll end here and let you think of your own questions to ask. I'll answer a few common misunderstandings in my next post. Until then, ciao.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

To See or Not To See, That Was The Question

Apparently, the cat is out of the bag. Only a handful of people knew I had bad eyes, and only a select few even knew the extent of how bad they were. Well, not sure how or why, but it was announced to the world during the World Championships in Altenberg, Germany. Oh well, now that you all know, I'll fill you in on the details.


I have a degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus. Here's a good definition, "A progressive disease of the eye in which the cornea becomes progressively thinner and the development of an irregular, cone-like corneal protrusion occurs. As the disease progresses, vision becomes increasingly distorted." Notice the "increasingly distorted" I was diagnosed in mid-2001. It's been 7 years; that means I'm not doing so well.


Anyway, for some fun, I'll show you some images that a couple gentleman created to show the rest of the world what it is like to have Keratoconus. Here is what Dr. Elio Spinello and Ian McCain said about what they have created: "KCVision is a compilation of images designed to help communicate how and what individuals with Keratoconus see. Keratoconus impacts the cornea which is the clear window of the eye and is responsible for refracting most of the light coming into the eye. Therefore, abnormalities of the cornea severely affect the way we see the world making simple tasks, like driving, watching TV or reading a book difficult. One of the best descriptions of keratoconus vision is that it is similar to looking through a car windshield on a rainy day. These images may be useful in helping to communicate the severity of vision problems to friends and family members of KC patients, they are also useful in helping to understand some of the limitations that those with KC face on a daily basis."
(Have I told you what Keratoconus is yet?)


So, please observe, learn, and appreciate what these individuals, including myself have to live with on a day to day basis.













These two images show what a normal person sees, and what a person with moderate Keratoconus sees. This is what we call "Double Vision"













The Glare Effect








This is Ghosting

I'm sure they all look pretty much the same; but as an expert, they aren't and it's interesting to talk to Opthamologists about the condition because they actually know what I'm saying. For your information, I was more on the "Ghosting"/"Double Vision" side. I usually had to choose, the middle one. That may be why when I have few too many drinks and people tell me to follow the one in the middle, I don't have much of a problem; I was already following that one. OK, bad joke. But if you can't laugh about it, you can't live with it.

Well, the reason for this post is to tell you that last week I had my vision corrected with an ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens, or which is easier to remember Implantable Contact Lens)

If you would like to see how it goes, here is a link to the "Today Show" that did a live filming of an operation; the day before I had my operation. I had to dodge some of their equipment. Here is the video. (I'll post a link just in case you can't see it)

So, as you can see. (haha, pun intended) I can see now. It's been a week and I'm still getting used to my new vision. In fact, I keep running in to things because I'm not used to the depth-perception. It's awkward. I'm sure I'll manage. Anyway, my vision has gone from 20/500 to 20/20. It is still fluctuating because my eyes are still adapting to the ICL, but whatever the outcome finally settles at, it will be better that what it was before.
See you next season!!!
P.S A great comparison that has come to my attention over the weekend, is the strength of contact lenses. I can't tell you how many times I've had to hear, "you have bad eyes? Well, gee, let me tell you how bad mine are". For years people have been trying to 1-up me; but they are always floored when they hear where I am, in fact, they don't believe me half the time. So, for all of you out there that know your prescription and have worn contacts I'll let you in on how my eyes are, or were. Most people have lenses that are -1.00, or -4.00, maybe even -7.00. That is pretty bad, I'm not going to sugar coat it. Well, for all of you out there that think your eyes are bad, my prescription was -16.75. That is not a typo, I'll say it again, -16.75. I'm not going to go any further in to it because I don't have to. -16.75

I would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for making this happen:

The United States Olympic Committee
The United States Bobsled & Skeleton Federation
Wes Barnett
Brian Shimer
Dr. Scott Stoll
Ted Offit
John Ball
John Donovan
Marci Francis
John Rosen

Doug Bagley

Kevin Ellis
Valerie Fleming
Darrin Steele
Lisa Carlock


Saturday, March 08, 2008

The World Championships

All I can say is that this has been two rough weeks. We are in Germany, a country that actually cares about Bobsledding, which means they are on their home track, and to make things harder nobody, other than the Germans, has been able to train here. So it's basically a battle for 4th place. If you get 4th you can consider it a win; the Germans are going to win this hands down. I know it's sounds negative, but it is, and unfortunately, that is how it works in the bobsled world. Not much I can do, other than my best.


Let me start off by saying, Altenberg is my worst track. In 6 years of driving my worst results have been here. This just isn't my track. So, when I tell you how the 2-man went you'll understand. Actually, it might be better if I just skip to the end, we finished 10th.


Just as the FIBT would have it, the Team Event was the very next day after the 2-man. We don't need to take a break. No, none at all. I wasn't totally worn out from racing as hard as I could 2 days in a row. Let's make it 3. So, we did. And 3 seemed to be the magical number of the day. I'll tell you why in a second. First an explanation of the team event, apparently they are trying to make it an Olympic Event. I doubt it will ever happen, but hey, who knows. If nothing else, it is a lot of fun. Here's how it goes, each country that enters the race gets to enter 1 female skeleton athlete, 1 male skeleton, 1 female bobsledder, and 1 male bobsledder; it covers the entire federation of sports. It really doesn't count for anything because there are only a few countries that actually have all 4 disciplines, regardless, it is the most fun anybody will have sliding. Because it doesn't really hold any weight just yet, everybody lets loose and has a great time. What is really cool is that each country has their own strengths and weaknesses; and to be honest the US has by far the strongest all-around team. We have Katie Uhlaender, the 2007 and 2008 World Cup Champion and 2008 World Championship Silver Medalist; on the men's side we have Zach Lund the 2007 World Cup Champion, and Eric Bernotas who is always fighting for that top spot as well. For the Women's Bobsled we have Shauna Rohbock who is 2006 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2007 World Cup Overall Runner-up. On the Men's side, well, you have me, and of course that is the most important of all. ;-) I'm like the 4 leg of the Men's 4x400m Relay. (You trackies know what I'm talking about). Plus, I have to say that, it's my blog for crying out loud. Anyway, as usual the standing changed each heat, this team was in first, then moved to 2nd. That team went from 4th to 2nd, and so on. It all came down to the Men's bobsled, the last event. I know what you are thinking, but really, it came down to the last run. We were sitting in 4th place, just outside the medals. We had to beat Great Britain, Canada, and/or Germany to get on the podium. Well, I did the best I could. I started out with a 0.28s deficit. In the end, we lost by 0.08. I did what I could, unfortunately it just wasn't enough. We ended up 3rd behind the Canadians, and of course the Germans won. Go figure. Regardless, not only myself and my team, but the entire field of atheltes had a blast. I can't wait for the next team race.

The 4-man was actually kind of exciting, at least for a few of us. Of course GER I won the race by over 2 seconds. Which is just stupid, that's not really racing now is it. Oh well. There was however a great race for 6th place. The top 6 sleds get trophy's, so at the worlds a top 6 finish is great. After the first run we were way behind, more that 1.10 seconds behind GER I. Gee, this is fun. They are the only team that has been able to go down the track in the last couple of years remind you. If they don't win, it would be a disgrace. Anyway, Latvia was only a few hundreths behind us. The next two runs we went back and forth, fighting for 6th. We all wanted a trophy, and to say we finished top 6. It came down to the last run and what should happen? Mesler strains his groin. No, really, he did. I swear. I couldn't make this stuff up. Now, we are fighting to the 100th of a second, we can't afford to have 3 guys pushing a 4-man sled. We did everything we could but the rules stated that Mesler had to race. We only had one choice..... to come together as a team, for Mesler to "Just get in the sled, we'll do the rest."

We took off from the start block like our lives depended on it. Which in a sense they did. When I called the cadence and hit the sled, I put every ounce of effort I had; Pavle did the same, and so did Curt. Mesler did one hell of a job not slowing us down even though he was hurt, which is not easy by the way. (Read a few post back about my groin injury, I went through the same pain.) We train in such a way that the 500+ pound sled gets moving pretty fast after just a few steps, for Mesler to keep up and keep from pulling back was an athletic feat. He did all we could ask for. Team Holcomb pushed 5.31; which tied the worst time all week. When we finally loaded into the sled we were 0.28 seconds behind the Latvians who were out for blood. Now, going into this run I knew that I had to do everything right. I had 19 runs to figure out all the turns, now is the time to make sure I applied what I learned over the 2 weeks. Not sure how, but it somehow came together. We went from 0.28 seconds back to 0.31, to, then 0.25, then with only 3 curves left we were 0.19 behind, and eternity in bobsledding. When we finally crossed the finish line we were 0.05 ahead at the bottom. It was a near miracle, in fact I would have to say it was one of the best runs I have ever had; and what a time to have it. We maintained 6th place and got a sweet-ass trophy. What an end to a rough season. Did I mention that the Latvian's were pissed? Well, they were. I don't blame them .
The best part of this chaos is that we came together as a team and stepped up to the plate; then we hit a home run. That is what we need, my crew did everything they could to give me a good start, and they did. All I could do is return the favor.notice the crowd in the background.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good Save

Good Save Holcomb!! Of course I'm boasting just a tad, but hey I am rather impressed with my performance. Ok, actually I’m not. The first half I had 3 gold, 2 silver, and a bronze. The second half I picked up a single silver medal. OUCH. That is terrible, relatively speaking. Obviously 2 years ago I would have done anything to have just 1 top 5 finish. However, being called the #1 driver in the world after last year is a lot to live up to. I am expected to be top 5 in every race; I also hold myself to high standard and expect that I perform like I am a champion

Anyway, back to what I was saying. We struggled a bit in Europe after I strained my Adductor. I wasn’t able to push to my ability and we struggled at the start. Without a great start, it’s hard to drive so well that you actually catch up to the best drivers in the world. Not going to happen. So we had a rough streak with an 8th, 11th, and 17th. Luckily I was healing and we made a comeback in the St. Moritz 4-man to a 6th place finish. It was the turning point of the second half we were no longer on the downfall, we were now on our way back up. The next week in Königsee, Germany we tied for 2nd with the Russians.

After Königsee we moved to Winterberg, Germany for the Finale. We were in a tough spot. The World Rankings had me at 4th in the 2-man, 4th in the 4-man, and 3rd in the Combined. Top 3 was possible for each event.

In order to move into 3rd place in 2-man I needed to beat Italians by 4 places. Not impossible, but difficult. Sure enough after a decent first run I was sitting in 6th place with the Italians in 10th right where I needed them to be. The second run was equally as good and we not only maintained our 4 sled lead over the Italians but gained one more. Mission accomplished. Unfortunately, we were caught off guard by the Russians who placed 2nd in the race and leap–frogged over us to 3rd place. So, to make a short story long, we moved into 3rd, then back to 4th. DAMN!!!

The 4-man didn’t work out either. We were 2 points ahead of the Latvian’s. All we had to do was tie or better. No big deal right? If they get 2nd then I have to get first, but if the get 30th all I have to do is get 29th or better. Basically, just beat them, that is all that matters. Well, we didn’t. We finished .03 seconds behind them. DAMN!!!

The weekend wasn’t a total loss. We missed the top 3 in 2-man by a few points, the 4-man by even less; the good news of the year so far is that we were far enough ahead of anybody else in the combined that we had 3rd locked in no matter what. So, without further ado, I present you with the World Cup Trophy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sorry

Okay, okay. I know, I know, I know, I know........I KNOW. I've been a bit lazy with the blog. I keep saying, "I'll do it tomorrow". Now it's been 3 months and I haven't done anything. So I apologize to everybody for not being on top of it. I'll be better about it, especially since I'm in Europe and I have nothing better to do. Although, to be fair, it's not easy to keep up with a blog when you're busy whooping everybody's ass! Hehe, sorry, I couldn't resist that one.

Ok, so I'll try to get 3 months in one post. Realistically there isn't much to say other than we are dominating the season. It started in Calgary with a 2nd in 2-man and a victory in 4-man. Not a bad way to start the season. I was a bit worried going in to those races a lot of critics were saying that it was a fluke and that I wouldn't be able to maintain that standard. The last thing I wanted was to show up at the first race and totally flop, only to prove them right. Well, looks like they were wrong, really wrong. They can all kiss my rosey red cheeks.

The next week we moved down to Park City, Utah. My lovely hometown. I gotta say it was my best week ever. There are only a few things in bobsled that would be better than sweeping a World Cup in your hometown. I'm pretty sure you can guess what that is. Anyway, we were pretty excited to come away with two victories, and bring the total to 3 of 4 races. Again, not a bad start to the season. Off to Lake Placid.

Lake Placid is a very difficult track, and a bit rough. It's very hard to drive and very hard on your body. This was an interesting race, I've never really done well here. Last year I was pretty lucky with my results, a 2nd in 2-man and 7th in 4-man; I was in 14th after the first run of the 4-man. Ice problems allowed me to move up 7 places. Not a good way to win. I'd rather do well because I performed well, not because the track fell apart. Well, this year I was able to do that. I finished 3rd in the 2-man and 2nd in the 4-man all by myself. No help from the elements. It was a fair race. Yay for me.

I'm going to stop there for now. we just finished a rough weekend in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy and I'll need an entire post to vent on that one. In the mean time, thanks for all the support. We love hearing from people so don't hesitate to send us an e-mail. We usually respond in a timely manner, especially if you're a single female.

Later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The First Week

Finally, I mean ALREADY, it's the first week of the 2007-08 World Cup Bobsled Tour. It seemed to come a bit quick, unfortunately I don't have much pull when it comes to starting the process.

The first week is always interesting, mainly because everybody wants it to start but nobody is really prepared. There are a lot of rules that we must abide by, both internationally and domestically. For us, the Americans, we have to choose our equipment before the first race. Picture this: you are given the option to drive the top 10 fastest cars ever built, but only given 60 seconds to drive each, then had to pick your car to drive on 10 different tracks around the world which are all completely different. What would you choose? How would you choose it? How many factors come in to play? That is just a scratch at what we go through as we choose our equipment.

Wait, did I mention that you have to choose the exact tires you are going to use......at ALL of the tracks?? Well, that is exactly what we need to decide.

Bobsledding is such a simple sport, yet so much goes into the process of getting down the track as fast as possible, everywhere.

To be honest, the team behind my team is not much short of genius. I mean, how does a 5 year driver win the 2-man and Combined World Cup, and 2nd in the 4-man???

Exactly!


--side note--

We had the fastest 2-man run on the first day of training.

We had the 2nd fastest 4-man run on the second day of training

Sorry for no pictures yet

--end side note--

Saturday, October 27, 2007

National Team Trials Part 1

The first section of the US National Team Trials has been completed. By sections I mean tracks, I can't say 2-man because some of the 2-man is in the 2nd section. Instead, I'm refering to tracks. The first section was in Lake Placid, the second is to be held in Park City, UT. I didn't compete because my ranking from last year gave me an automatic spot on the team this year. I'm not going to lie, it's been nice not having to race, however, I kinda wish I still could. I'm not sure yet about getting to the first World Cup and not having any racing under my belt yet, but for all I know at this point it could be the greatest thing ever. I'll let you know in a few weeks.

Even though I wasn't competing this past week, I was in Lake Placid training and I was a forerunner for the Trials. I wanted to try to pseudo-compete by pretending that I was involved to get myself back in to the frame of mind, but I'll tell you what, it's not that easy. No matter what I did I knew in the back of my mind that it didn't matter. So I was a bit bummed. I didn't perform as well as I wanted, but I know that if I was racing, I would have been able to step up to the plate.

Ok, enough rambling. To the info you want, the current standings in the US National Team Trials is as follows Tied for 1st is Stephan Bosch and Mike Kohn. Each with a victory in the first two races. 3rd is Grayson Fertig, 4th is John Napier, 5th Matt Anderson, and 6th is Ivan Radcliff.

The trials will resume in Park City, Utah over the next few weeks (October 29 - November 11) The first week will be the last 2-man race and the next weekend will be the two 4-man races.

If you can make it out, it would be great to see some support. Good Luck to all the competitors!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Summer Is Officially Over

Yes, it's sad but true. In bobsled terms, the summer has officially ended. Why, do you ask? Well, because I have driven 80mph down an icey chute. We started bobsledding on last Monday, I took 2 runs. It was very interesting, it's the first time I've bobsledded as the returning champion. Well, everybody expects me to come out with record times on the first run. I don't blame them, trust me I want to see it too. Just don't forget that I haven't done this in 7 months. I dare any one of you to take 7 months off of driving your car. Sure, when you get back in it won't seem like you had even left, but trust me, there are many things that are going to seem a bit strange. It's like riding a bike, you can hop right on and go, but it takes a few minutes before you can do any tricks.

This year the Bodyn Project (bodynbobsled.com) who build our incredible sleds, not only fixed but completely refurbished our sleds, then gave them a complete makeover. I'll tell you what, they look INCREDIBLE and to honor your presence on my blog, I'm going to give you a sneak peak at my new sled design, 2 months ahead of the rest of the world. It's the least I can do to thank you for coming here and spending a few minutes. I just want you to know, these pictures hardly do any justice to the sleds, they look amazing and I can't give enough praise to the Bodyn Project and the engineers that made this possible. (these are in a large format so you can get a better idea of what they really look like.)








What do you think? Yeah, they're pretty nice. Again, wait until you see it on the hill. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that we've started and it's that time of year again. I hope you had a great summer, and cheers to a great winter.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I'll explain the poll

I know, two posts in one day. I'm so crazy. Anyway, I thought I would explain my poll this time. I guess my last poll didn't hit home because nobody knew what I was talking about.

Well, there's this tiny debate going on within the team. Not with everybody but quite a few. There are guys that have never even been in a bobsled claiming that they are on the US Bobsled Team. I can understand where they are coming from since they passed our physical test, but seriously, being on a team the represents the entire United States is much easier than an invite to a camp (or in some cases paying your way to a camp).

I've actually had a few fun experiences with this weird phenomena. Last year I was at a party, having a good time, talking with a few people about what I do, and I came across a gal who had a friend that was a bobsledder. I thought, "Really? Wow, what a small world." She began to tell me about her good friend and I was even more intrigued. She eventually asked me what team I was on, I said, "USA 1". Her wonderful reply was, "Really?!? You must know my friend, he's on USA 1". Cool, since there are only 4 of us, I'm pretty sure I'll know him. I asked her, "Wow, what's his name?". She told me, and I looked at her and said, "Hmmmm...I've never heard of him. Are you sure he's on USA 1?" She confirmed what I was asking, and we exchanged a few more discrepancies. Finally, she said, "Oh, you know what, you're on the US Bobsled Team, he's actually on the US Olympic Bobsled Team. He's ranked much higher that you are."

That's a true story, in fact, I had an almost identical story back on December 31, 1999 at a New Year's Party (It's a hard date to forget) I had a very similar conversation about "a friend" that was on the same US Team I was on. Pretty much the same outcome, she said, "Oh you must not be on the US Team."


That's just a small reason for the survey, I just wanted to tell somebody about the funny story. Now the main reason for my post is that we have a lot of controversy within the US Bobsled Federation on what the National Team is. We have a large number of athletes that have never even participated in a World Cup race that are going to sponsors and corporations claiming to be members of the US National Bobsled Team. We have guys that have participated in 1 race, maybe even 2 races doing the same thing. There is also another situation, that plays off of my earlier experience. The top ranked US team to enter an America's Cup race, the lowest level of international competition, is called USA 1. So they can now go around to sponsors, say they are USA 1, and make off like bandits. I'm in Europe for months at a time, busting my butt, not able to approach any sponsors during the prime of our season. Is that fair?

That is where the survey comes from. Who is actually the US Bobsled team?

Just an observation

Ok, I use a free blog service, Blogger. I'm not scared to admit it. Well, one of the features is to put Google Ads on the top. I decided sure, why not, I could use an extra $1.50 each month. Well, I just came to the main page to make sure it still looks okay, and I come across the lame Google ads that were posted. When I signed up it said, "Ads that are relevant to your site". How is "Kick Sled", "Nordic Sled", Or "5k race" relevant to my site? Do any of those have anything at all to do with Bobsled? I can understand that the majority of Americans don't know what Bobsledding is, but Google? Come on.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

So it has begun

Wow! I'm writing this from my hotel room in Calgary on the last night of our first camp. First off, I can't believe it's 9:45pm and the sun is still out; it feels like 6:00. I'm totally tripped out. Anyway, what's worse is that I'm already pushing a bobsled.......ON ICE!!! It's July for crying out loud. Hell, I was pushing on ice before Utah celebrated Pioneer day. That might not seem like much of a deal to you but, trust me, it is.


All around it was a good week. We had a few days of pushing, in which we did some experimenting, nothing too promising, but hey, if you're coasting, you're going downhill.

As great as this week was, and how much it will help our upcoming season, and help us defend our world title, it will not be as easily dismissed as we would like it to be.


Last night at dinner we were talking about how much the Canadian push track is a joke. Not the facility itself, that is unsurpassed, but the cost. Currently we pay $250/hour. Guess what, that is 0.06 cents per second.

Sounds crazy right? Let me spell it out for you. When you look at the total money spent for us to push for 3 hours, it will blow your mind. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, mainly because I don't want everybody writing the USOC complaining at all the money we're spending, so please, don't tell anybody.


OK here's how it breaks down. There are 6 of us here 1x4-man team, 1 alternate, 1 coach = 6 people. That means we need 3 hotel rooms at $120/night x 3 = $360/day x 6 days = $2160. $40 food Per Diem x 6 people = $240/day x 6 days = $1440. 2 rental cars at $36/day x 6 days = $144. Gym fees of $10 per person x 6 = 60 x 5 days = $300. Gas was approx. $400 for the week, add on 3 hours of pushing for $250/hour = $750. Now finally add in airline tickets, trust me when I give you this figure (it was discussed) = $3600.

The grand total for the week = $8794.00. (that's close to $10,000 a week, A WEEK!!!)

Why did we come here? To push. We pushed for 3 hours. That means it cost us $2932 an hour to push a bobsled on ice. Are you sick yet? 'Cause I am.

Would you pay nearly $3000/hour to do anything? HELL NO!! Then why do we? I'll tell you, the USOC would rather pay that than build our own track. (Did I mention that Canada makes money with the facility?) But hey, as Americans we should feel good knowing we're helping the Canadians. Yeah, helping fund their Olympic programs that are focused on beating the tar out of us.

I know how you are feeling right now, and I'm sorry, but I have to put the icing on the cake. The Ice House charges us $250.00 an hour; the average push on the track takes between 5.00 and 5.50 seconds; which means it costs between $0.30 and $0.33 per push. with 10 pushes at most; what happens to the other $247?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's Been A While

So I've received a few e-mails over the past few weeks about my lack of blog posts. I understand you need a fix, I'll do the best to help you out, but you have to understand, I have to live my life too.

Actually, I have received a few "fan" letters wondering why I'm not posting right now. Well, I have two words for you, IT'S SUMMER. Are contractions one word? Anyway, there is no ice in the summer, therefore no bobsledding. My life isn't exciting enough to narrate day by day. Winter is a different story; summer not so much.

Oh, not sure if anyone cares or not but I have a new laptop. I still have my old one but, it's been dead for about 2 months now and it's starting to stink. God bless it's little soul. :(

Anyway, I thought I would satisfy your addictions and make this post to tell you there won't be many many this summer. If something cool happens I'll write about it; starting now; I don't think I can do my trip to the Kentucky Derby any justice at this point. But here's a picture just to give you an idea. (THANKS DR. SHARP!! and yes that is Samuel Adams himself.)

Speaking of photos, I know a lot of you have been asking for the great photos on my site, my MySpace, and my Facebook pages. If you want to get them head over to http://www.bobsleighphotos.com/ (note to all you Americans it's bobsleigh not bobsled). John is our #1 fan, and if any of you would like to challenge him for that title you are more than welcome, however, he's so far ahead it's not even worth trying. Note: All the pictures on his site were taken by him, yes, while he was at the race. (Sorry Dad, you're #2)

So, hopefully this fix will last you through the next few weeks, god willing, few months. If not, let me know, I'll muster something interesting to write about.

Ciao

-Holcomb

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Every One Counts

This is a post that I never thought I would be doing. I was watching the Nightly News tonight and they featured the story of CPT Brian Freeman; the hero. It was your usual newscast. he did this, she did that, so-and-so-did it too. Well, I happened to see a story of a man that went above and beyond the call of duty; a man whos life, in his eyes, was just as important as anybody elses; especially a young child on the streets of Iraq.

To make a long story short, they showed CPT Freeman doing his best, taking care of everybody else. He made a mission of finding a young Iraqi boy a way to live. That way was by open heart surgery. The day CPT Freeman was killed the young Iraqi boy was given a chance to live; an unbelievable story.

Well, I happened to see the nightly news, they showed picture after picture CPT Freeman doing what he did best, live. What I saw, however, shocked me. A picture that I had taken of him flashed across the screen. I couldn't believe it. Now, I'm no anal photographer who demands that I'm paid for the pictures I take. (even though it was displayed on the most watched TV program in the US. ) What I couldn't believe was a picture that I had taken completely innocently had been published to the world as a tribute to his demise.

Well, the picture I took was as innocent as you can get. I was testing my new camera in a small hotel room in Albany, NY; I took at least 10 photos in just as many seconds. When I heard of Brian's death I sent all the photos I had of him to a friend as another way to remember him.

Where is this story going? Well, as a reminder, I was watching the news story of my friend's death when a picture flashed before my eyes;
That's when it hit home.

I was only testing my camera when I took that picture. I have a 10 picture sequence that includes that picture. I was only testing my camera. I wasn't taking pictures so that the world could remember CPT Brian Freeman. It was a picture I had taken in that small, insignificant moment of both our lives. (It wasn't even in focus.) That's when I realized that every one counts.

"Hey.......Brian!"

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stranger Things Have Happened

Heading in to the final 4-man race we had a 70 point deficit to the Russians. All week the coaches had been calculating what it would take to win the Overall 4-man World Cup Title. Basically the Russians would have to crash, and we would have to win. The chances of that are pretty slim. Mainly because when you're leading the World Cup by 70 points it means you're pretty damn good, and the chances that you're going to crash in the last two runs of the season are extremely slim. However, stranger things have happened.

The race started a little late that day. Not sure why, there is such a tight TV schedule that the race is literally calculated to within seconds for commercial breaks. It's actually quite impressive. So, needless to say things were a bit strange to begin with. Well, the Russians happened to draw number 1 and we were 9th. About the only advantage to being 9th is that you know how the best sleds have done before you go. Other than that, 9th pretty much sucks for a top seed draw. (Unless you're in St. Moritz, but that's another story for another time.)

Knowing what had to happen for the Russians to lose the lead, it was a pretty relaxed mood in the start house. Maybe a bit too relaxed. Its a completely different mindset when the World Championships are in the middle of the season instead of the very end; AND the last race doesn't have much of purpose because the Russians have such a huge lead. So, as you can imagine, the mood was light.

Anyway, they finally cleared the track for the first sled, RUS I. Off they went, down the track to a simple victory. All he has to do is finish the race and he'll be World Cup Champion. They had a pretty good start time 4.84. Not quite as good as ours of 4.82 but still fast enough. When you're in the start house, all you really listen to is the start time and the finish time, everything else is pretty much worthless information. So nobody was really paying attention to the announcer, especially because half of the people can't speak German. For all I know he could have been calling me a half witted orangutan all day. However, there is one thing that people do understand, emotion. No matter what language somebody is speaking, even if you don't understand, you can understand how they are feeling, or what they are trying to express by the tone of their voice. It's very interesting.

So, we were sitting, waiting for our turn, joking with one another, counting down the seconds to our departure from Europe when the announcer began screaming with shock and excitement, we all recognized right away what had happened. Russia had crashed.

I've been to Europe 15 times and I can still only do 3 things in German; order a meal at McDonald's, clear a bobsled track, and send a letter via Airmail. Luftpost bitte. So, like I said, everybody knew exactly what had happened to the Russians. The light mood that was so refreshing was now a mood that I only see a few times a year. The door has been opened, now we just have to walk through it. My whole team new what was at stake, we missed a World Championship by a few hundredths, we're not going to lose the World Cup Title by a few points.

We went out there and performed to our ability, we finished the first run in 2nd place, only a few hundredths out of first. It was the first step in getting out 4-man title. For once, every sled in the race was just as important as the next. You see, even though the Russians crashed, they are still allowed to take a second run given that all 4 athletes crossed the finish line touching the sled. (Touching meaning they could all be dragging behind, holding on to the sled as they finish and it would still count.)

Where was I, oh yeah, there were 21 sleds in the race. If 20 sleds finished ahead of the Russians, they would not get a second run; we would only have to finish in the top 13 to pull ahead in points. That would make life much easier for us, unfortunately they beat 2 sleds. Our luck wasn't that good.

Knowing exactly where the Russians stood for the second run, every coach and athlete started making the calculations. Here's what it came down to, if we stay in 2nd place, the Russians have to finish 13th or worse; if we win, they must finish 10th or worse. There was no finishing 3rd for us.

Nobody on that tour thought it would come down to the last run. Not with a 70 point difference. Well, it did.

The second run started, and the Russians were off 2nd. They knew exactly what they had to do; and they did it. They put down a smokin' run. They moved up from 19th to 15th, to 12th, to 11th, 10th. One more sled and it was over. Sure enough they beat Russia II by .05s. Coincidence? Probably not. They ended up in 9th place. One spot ahead of where they had to. I'll tell you what though. They had the fastest run of the 2nd heat, and they lost to Germany I, Andre Lange, by .03s. Anybody that crashes and nearly beats Germany on a German track deserves the World Cup Title. That is a feat in itself.

Needless to say, we knew there was no chance for us to beat the Russians, but we still had a chance to win the race. We stood at the top of the track as ready as we had ever been. We had another great start, another great drive, however, I nearly crashed in the same place as the Russians. Hey, there was a rut in the ice from all the sleds before us and we hit it nearly sending us over on our side. No problem, I'd actually been there before in the 2004 World Championships. Experience saved us. We ended up finishing 2nd behind the Canadians, and 2nd behind the Russians.

What results should our funding be based on?

Who is the US Bobsled Team?

During the season Bobsledders and Skeleton-ers are paid for the races that take place each weekend. Skeleton athletes get paid $1000 for their 1 race. Since bobsledders race twice in a weekend should they be paid twice?

How much equipment should be given to the #1 team