WHISTLER, British Columbia - With one more perfect run down sliding's most treacherous track, Steven Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding Saturday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.
It was the first gold medal for the United States in sliding's signature race since Francis Tyler won one for the Americans at St. Moritz in 1948.
Holcomb's four-run time was 3:24.46, with Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz pushing for him again - just as they did in winning the world championship a year ago.
"You work so hard and when you finally get there, it's like, 'Well, now what? I don't know what to do,' " Holcomb said. "We've worked so hard and gone through so much in the last four years. To end on a high note like this is huge. It's overwhelming."
World champions, 2009. Olympic champions, 2010.
"You can't do any better," U.S. coach Brian Shimer said.
German Andre Lange, who failed to win a gold medal for the first time in five Olympic events, had a nearly perfect final run to win the silver in his final race. Lange finished 0.38 seconds behind Holcomb. Lyndon Rush drove Canada-1 to the bronze.
"It's huge," said USA-3 driver Mike Kohn, who finished 13th. "It's hopefully going to change the program and bring some publicity and some funding to this sport, just like it did in '02 when we won silver and bronze."
Minutes after it was over, Tomasevicz pulled off Holcomb's hat, planting a smooch on his pilot's bald, sweaty head.
"It means an awful lot," said Darrin Steele, CEO of the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "This has been a long road. But all the components came together. You put a sled and a team together, and you never know how it's going to go."
A slew of U.S. teammates rushed to Holcomb's sled, and one of the first to offer congratulations was Geoff Bodine, the 1986 Daytona 500 champion who was the driving force behind the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project - which funded and built the sleds Americans raced here.
"It's a great thing for the U.S.," Canada-2 driver Pierre Lueders said. "They've been competitive in bobsled for so long, but have been shut out quite a few times. He definitely is a talent, and I can't wait to see how he's going to do four years from now."
All Holcomb needed to do in the fourth and final heat was get his sled down the mountain without a huge mishap. All he had to do was not wreck before Curve 13, this track's most dangerous turn, the one Holcomb himself dubbed "50-50".
Holcomb and his sledmates pushed the "Night Train" - the menacing, flat-black, super-high-tech sled that is coveted by almost every bobsledder in the world - into Olympic lore.
A mere 51.52 seconds later, it was over.