Holcomb's Night Train closes on bobsleigh gold

By Patrick Vignal

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Steve Holcomb's Night Train moved one run away from earning the United States their first Olympic four-man bobsleigh triumph in 62 years on Saturday.

Holcomb and his crew held on to a comfortable lead in the third run down the world's fastest track and looked ideally placed to become the first American quartet to win gold in the showcase sliding event since 1948 in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Canada I, with Lyndon Rush at the helm, were in second position, 0.45 seconds off the pace, before the fourth and final run at Whistler's sliding center on another rainy day on Blackcomb Mountain.

Germany's Andre Lange, bidding for a record third consecutive Olympic gold in the four-man event, was clinging on to third place, 0.54 seconds behind Holcomb.

Holcomb's shiny black sled had thundered into the lead on Friday, clocking the fastest time and beating the track record on each of the first two runs.

The bulky 29-year-old and crewmen Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz were marginally slower in Saturday's third round, needing 51.19 seconds to cover the winding 1,400-meter track.

The Americans were still, however, slightly faster than their main rivals.

"A lot has to do with warmer temperatures today," Holcomb told reporters. "The ice is a little slower, a little frostier."

Lange, nicknamed the Cannibal for his habit of winning everything, seemed too far back to take gold but his experienced crewman Kevin Kuske said silver was still a target.

"We had a good start but we didn't take the best line and the drive was not optimal," Kuske told reporters. "We'll keep fighting. Silver is doable."

While there had been six crashes in Friday's runs, all at the same notoriously tricky 13th corner nicknamed 50-50, Saturday's penultimate run remained crash-free.