Lange leads Germans to 1-2 finish; Holcomb crashes

Dec 19, 2009 - 7:12 PM ALTENBERG, Germany(AP) -- Andre Lange of Germany won the two-man bobsled World Cup race on his home track Saturday, while the U.S. team of Steven Holcomb and Justin Olsen avoided injury when their sled crashed.

Americans Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka took third in the women's two-man race won by Kallie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Canada.

Lange and Kevin Kuske were fastest in both runs and finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 49.81 seconds. Countrymen Thomas Florschuetz and Marc Kuehne were second in 1:50.47. Ivo Rueegg and Cedric Grand of Switzerland were third.

"This is easily one of the hardest tracks in the world," Holcomb said. "... There's not a lot of room for error, which we just proved."

Holcomb was eighth after the first run and was trying to make up time in the second when he crashed in turn 13.

"When you're trying to go from eighth up to the top five you have to push the edge. I pushed too hard," he said.

The U.S. team slid across the finish line and ended up 19th with a time of 1:52.75.

Humphries and Moyse won the women's race in 1:53.60 to edge teammates Helen Upperton and Jennifer Ciochetti by 0.43 seconds. Rohbock and Rzepka were another 0.08 back, edging reigning Olympic champion Sandra Kiriasis on her home track.

"The results today were awesome," Rohbock said. "The Germans swept the medals at World Championships here two years ago, so you always expect them to do well. It's incredible that North Americans were able to come through and knock the Germans off the podium."

Erin Pac of the U.S. had her best finish on the Altenberg track, finishing sixth with Elana Myers. Teammates Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo took 13th. The U.S. women are on track to qualify three sleds for the Vancouver Olympics in February.

Holcomb hasn't crashed in a competition since he was a novice driver in 2003.

"Not a lot goes through your mind when you crash other than trying to not get beat up," said Holcomb. "We're fine, but when the sled flips upside down it can be intimidating."

Not enough to keep Holcomb from looking forward to the four-man race on Sunday.

"I know what I did wrong," he said. "I know what to fix, so it's just a matter of getting back on the horse and getting after it tomorrow."

Holcomb's crash comes one week after the U.S. team lost Todd Hays to retirement because of a head injury he suffered in a crash in Winterberg.

John Napier was the top American on Saturday, teaming with Chuck Berkeley to finish 10th.

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