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Americans collect big wins in World Cup bobsled, luge competitions

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Steven Holcomb, the veteran bobsled champion, and Kate Hansen, a promising slider in the luge, made it a banner day for U.S. competitors in season-ending World Cup competitions on Saturday.

Holcomb became the seventh two-man bobsled pilot in World Cup history to win a second season title when he and brakeman Curt Tomasevicz finished seventh in Konigssee, Germany, on Saturday.

Hansen became the first American to win a major singles luge competition since 2009 and a World Cup event since 1997 when she took the victory in Sigulda, Latvia.

"Of course it's a great surprise for me," said Hansen, who is from La Canada, Calif. "I've never dreamed of winning the event."

Hansen finished her two runs in a combined 1 minute 23.976 seconds, nearly a second better than runner-up Alex Gough of Canada and nearly two seconds ahead of third-place Natalia Khoreva of Russia.

U.S. teammate Erin Hamilin, who won the 2009 world championship, took fourth, while American Summer Britcher was 12th. Germany, which features some of the best sliders in the world, did not enter its top three competitors Saturday.

Holcomb, who also earned a World Cup title in 2006-07 and won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games, was in jeopardy of losing his lead atop the standings after finishing 10th in the first run Saturday.

"It was a wake-up call," he said. "We almost lost the title. We were able to put down the second run we needed to keep it. It takes more than great driving and pushing. There's a team behind the team that deserves recognition, and sled technicians Richard Laubenstein, David Cripps and Jim Garde really get the credit today."

Pilot Justin Kripps of Canada recorded his first World Cup victory by teaming with Bryan Barnett to finish with a time of 1:39.71 in the two runs, only 0.15 seconds ahead of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland and 0.32 seconds ahead of countrymen Lyndon Rush and Lascelles Brown.

Two other American teams finished in the top six: Cory Butner and Chris Langton were fourth; Nick Cunningham and Andreas Drbal were sixth.

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