SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Russia's Alexander Zubkov, who once drove a taxi for a living, piloted his two-man bobsled to an Olympic gold medal Monday.
Zubkov, the Russian flag bearer in the opening ceremonies last week, and brakeman Alexey Voevoda traveled more than 134 kilometers an hour down the sliding track and turned in the fastest time in each of the four runs that made up the competition.
They finished .66 of a second in front of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland. Americans Steven Holcombe and Steven Langton won the bronze medal.
It was the first medal for the United States in the Olympic two-man bobsled in 62 years. Holcombe will be going after his second straight four-man gold when that event is staged during the final two days of the Games.
Holcombe barely captured third place, finishing .03 of a second in front of another Russian sled driven by Alexander Kasjanov. That sled began the final run in fifth place, but almost jumped to third.
Canada's Justin Kripps started his final trip down the course in fourth place and a solid run could easily have swept him past the Americans into third. Instead, he had only the 14th quickest time in the last run and wound up sixth overall.
Zubkov and Voevoda won the bronze medal four years ago and they ended a three-Olympic gold medal streak for German sleds. Germany failed to earn a medal in the event for the second time in 50 years.
The field for the final run was trimmed to 20 from the original 29 sleds and among those not making it to the final stage of the event were the Jamaicans.
Short on bobsledding expertise, but long on persistence, the team of Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon finished last -- 6.50 seconds behind the winning Russians.