WINTERBERG, Germany -- Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland won a World Cup 2-man bobsled competition Friday, ending American pilot Steven Holcomb’s seven-race overall winning streak to start the season.
Hefti and Baumann finished two runs in 1 minute, 52.68 seconds. Russia’s Alexsandr Zubkov and Alexey Voevoda were second in 1:53.14. Cory Butner teamed with Pittsfield native Chuck Berkeley to finish in 1:53.15 and take the bronze, a mere 0.01 seconds away from winning the silver.
Holcomb and teammate Steven Langton struggled in their first run with only the ninth-best time and wound up finishing seventh overall in 1:53.45.
Nick Cunningham and Justin Olsen of the U.S. were 12th, doomed by a mistake-filled second run after being tied for fourth at the midway point of the competition.
Hefti and Baumann were 0.33 seconds faster than Butner and Berkeley in the opening run, giving them a big margin of error to work with. The next nine sleds in the field were separated by only 0.35 seconds.
Butner and Berkeley wound up slipping one spot in the second run, but not enough to fall from medal contention. Their bronze was the 26th medal collected by U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes so far in this World Cup season, the most of any nation.
"We were having good training, fast and we were hoping to be fast on race day," Butner said. "Today we were."
Zubkov and Voevoda made a big move in the second run, but no one else came close to challenging Hefti, who has prevailed in four of the last six 2-man races on the Winterberg track.
"The whole team did a good job this week," Hefti said. "It’s always good to win here."
Holcomb remained the leader in the 2-man overall points chase, now with 1,068, 103 ahead of Hefti, who moved up one spot into second place. Butner also moved up a spot, now sitting in third with 935 points.
There’s still two more bobsled races for the men in Winterberg, with 4-man competitions scheduled on both Saturday and Sunday.