Holcomb wins 2-man race, ends European drought

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IGLS, Austria (AP) -- Steven Holcomb regained his winning touch in Europe, just in time for the Sochi Olympics.

Holcomb drove to victory in a World Cup two-man bobsled race on Saturday -- his first win outside of North America in a two-man race since February 2007 when he tied for a win at Cesana Pariol, and his first in any European competition since prevailing in a four-man race in December 2009.

With the fastest time in each heat, Holcomb and brakeman Steve Langton finished two runs at Igls in 1 minute, 43.72 seconds. Beat Hefti and Thomas Amrhein of Switzerland were second in 1:43.95, and the Russian duo of Alexander Zubkov and Dimitry Trunenkov were third in 1:44.00.

"Last year we debuted the BMW M2 prototype and didn't fare so well. We finished 14th and had some troubles," Holcomb said. "It was nice to come back this year and redeem ourselves. ... I think we showed the sled can be really fast, so I'm excited."

Cory Butner and Chuck Berkeley tied for ninth for the U.S., while Nick Cunningham and Andreas Drbal was 15th. The U.S. Olympic bobsled team will be unveiled Sunday after selection meetings to finalize the men's and women's rosters.

Holcomb and Langton held the lead after the first run, then got off to a 5.13-second start time in the second heat -- slightly slower than their top rivals. But Holcomb made limited mistakes on the drive, the BMW sled kept picking up speed and wound up being the only sled to crack the 125 kph barrier in that final run.

"It builds confidence when you're sitting in the lead," Holcomb said. "A lot of people were critical of us last week, and we wanted to come back and show that we're not out of contention."

It was Holcomb's fifth two-man win of the season, extending his lead over Hefti in the World Cup standings to 77 points with one race remaining.