WHISTLER (Reuters) - Germany’s Andre Lange was quickest in the first official training runs for the Olympic four-man bobsleigh on Tuesday as minor changes to corner 11 took the sting out of Whistler’s track.
Lange, who became the most decorated Olympic bobsleigh driver when he won the two-man competition for his fourth career gold, topped the time charts with 51.68 and 51.84 seconds -- well down on the track record.
Steve Holcomb’s so-called “Night Train,” bidding to become the first American men’s crew to win bobsleigh gold since 1948, were next fastest with a time of 51.72 on their first run and Russia’s Alexandr Zubkov was third.
“There were no crashes today,” Lange’s long-time brakeman Kevin Kuske, who has three Olympic golds to his name, told reporters. “The track is better than two-man. It was too complicated but I think’s it’s better now.”
Lange can become the first man to win three consecutive Olympic golds in the four-man competition which concludes the Whistler sliding program on Saturday.
Bobsleigh organizers met with team captains on Monday after drivers in the four-man raised concern over the shape of corner 11, the start of a section of the track where several crashes occurred in the two-man competition.
Course officials shaved an inch of ice off the corner and most crews seemed happy, including Canada’s Lyndon Rush, who crashed in the two-man.
”I think the changes they made help you if you are on the wrong line so you don’t crash,“ Rush, who had been a medal prospect in two-man, told reporters. ”But if you’re on the right line there’s no difference.
“I‘m just pleased to have a clean slate and not be down three seconds, that didn’t feel good when you come to the track and you’re down three seconds because you crashed the day before.”
Editing by Ed Osmond