Hays, U.S. ahead in 4-man bobsled

USA 1 leads after 2 runs with time of 1:33.26

USA 2 is in fifth place

Winter Olympics

Salt Lake City 2002

February 23, 2002|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

PARK CITY, Utah - Todd Hays didn't let his poor showing in the two-man bobsled competition spoil his run yesterday in the four-man bobsled.

Hays drove USA 1 to first place after the first of two days of competition, with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 33.26 seconds.

"We have to concentrate on tomorrow's races," said Hays. "I feel great."

The top drivers in the world are lurking right behind him.

Sitting tied just .09 of a second back are Martin Annen in Swiss 1 and Andre Lange in Germany 2. In third place is Swiss 2, piloted by Christian Reich, with a time of 1:33.64.

The driver of USA 2, five-time Olympian Brian Shimer, is in fifth place with a combined two-run time of 1:33.65, followed by Christoph Langen of Germany, in his final Olympics, with a time of 1:33.68. Langen is looking for a second medal to go with the gold he won in the two-man race on Sunday.

"I said coming in that nobody was going to beat me down the track," Shimer said. "It's the last two runs of my career, and I've got nothing to save. It is hard to be 15/100ths of a second behind and beat these guys, but if we can find some time at the start, I think we'll be all right."

Conditions were nearly perfect at Utah Olympic Park before a capacity crowd of 15,000.

With five World Cup wins this season, Hays was considered to have a hot hand in both the two-man and four-man events, but he considered the larger sled his best shot.

Although he lost teammate Pavle Jovanovic after he tested positive for a banned drug, Hays put together a steady push team of veterans Randy Jones and Garrett Hines and rookie Bill Schuffenhauer.

Hays took the first run of the day and quickly made a statement that the poor starts and jitters that marred his performance in the two-man event were forgotten. He had the second-fastest start of the day and at the end of the first heat, led Christian Reich piloting Swiss 2, and Lange by .06 of a second.

His second run was a near carbon copy of the first. The two German drivers downplayed their chances.

"For me, it is no surprise that Hays is in the lead," said Lange. "Now it depends how we get through the night. I'm totally tired now ... and we still have to work on our runners. Then we'll get some sleep."

Langen said an old foot injury flared up on the start of his first run.

"I noticed pain in the bottom of my left foot," he said. "It wasn't a problem with the start, it was a problem with the driving. If it is a serious injury, I will not compete [Saturday]."

The U.S. men are still looking for the medal to end the squad's 46-year Olympic drought. The women won the gold medal in two-man competition Tuesday in the inaugural running of that event.

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