The team from the United States USA-1, with Steven Holcomb, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Christopher Fogt, take a curve in the second run during the men's four-man bobsled competition Saturday at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Natacha Pisarenko / Associated Press)
Sochi, Russia — U.S. bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb planned to sleep well Saturday night, but he wouldn't say the same for his German competitors.
Holcomb's four-man crew sits in fourth place after the first day of four-man competition, just one-hundredth of a second behind the Germans' top sled. It's not the placement that the defending Olympic champion wanted, but he insisted he still liked his team's chances.
"We're not upset," Holcomb said after his first two runs Saturday. "We're a hundredth out of third place. The Germans know how we perform under pressure, and I'm sure they're going to have a hard time sleeping."
Alexander Zubkov of Russia continued to exploit home-ice advantage as the veteran pilot put down two strong runs and will take a slim lead into Sunday's finals.
The Latvian team stunned many by finishing second, just 0.04 seconds off Zubkov's time. Latvian driver Oskars Melbardis, who finished ninth at the world championships last year, was fifth in the two-man competition last week.
Holcomb planned to watch the Latvians' blistering second run in an effort to understand better the course that has perplexed so many drivers. He also intended to review his own performance, which included a mistake on the fifth curve during the second run.
Holcomb still is struggling with a strained calf he suffered in the two-man event. Despite the injury, he and his crew of Steve Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt broke the track's start record on their first run.
The USA-2 sled, piloted by Nick Cunningham, is in 11th place after a steering mechanism broke on the team's first run.
Zubkov, who won gold in two-man, has a more functional relationship with the track. While other drivers still are trying to figure out the Sanki Sliding Center, his familiarity _ he has taken an estimated 300 runs here — has helped him dominate these games.
"Our rivals are very serious, and (Sunday) will be a very difficult race," Zubkov said. "We will fight until the very end. It is a serious competition and a serious race."
With only 0.17 seconds between the Russians and Holcomb's sled, third-place German pilot Maximilian Arndt suggested Zubkov could be caught.
"We will see if we can still tease him," Arndt said.
He was a medal contender from the start, but Ted Ligety knew that meant nothing in relation to how he'd finish.
"Being a favorite in Alpine is hard because it's so far from being guaranteed," he said. "It's not super easy to win, even when you're skiing well."
But Ligety did win, making history along the way, taking the men's giant slalom title Wednesday in nearby Krasnaya Polyana.
Ligety became the second American and first U.S. male to win two Olympic gold medals in Alpine skiing. His first gold came in combined at the Turin Games in 2006.
Ligety, of Park City, Utah, also became the first non-European to win an Olympic giant slalom title.
The 2011 and 2013 world champion, Ligety finished in a combined time of 2 minutes, 45.29 seconds, which was 0.48 of a second ahead of silver medalist Steve Missillier of France. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault was third.
Ligety, 29, led by 0.93 of a second after the first run and never looked troubled, despite seeing his advantage steadily eroded at each of the four intermediate splits.
Ligety has now won the past three major international giant slalom titles and is already third on the all-time list of giant slalom World Cup winners.
Teammate Bode Miller, a resident of Coto de Caza, finished 20th as he battled soreness in his left knee.
"There is no question who the best GS skier in the world is," Miller said, referring to Ligety.
As a two-time Olympic champ from the States, Ligety joins Andrea Mead Lawrence, who won both the women's slalom and giant slalom at the Oslo Games in 1952.
American-turned-Russian Vic Wild won his second snowboarding gold medal of the Sochi Games today, taking first place in the men’s parallel slalom event.
Wild, who moved to Moscow and became a Russian citizen in 2012 when he married Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, won by 0.11 seconds against Slovenia’s Zan Kosir, who got silver. Benjamin Karl of Austria was third.
In the women’s parallel slalom, Austria’s Julia Dujmovits took gold and was followed by two Germans — Anke Karstens captured the silver medal and Amelie Kober got the bronze.
Wild also won gold three days ago in the parallel giant slalom, a race in which Kosir took bronze. Zavarzina won a bronze medal for Russia in the women’s version of that event.
The South Korean Olympic Committee has protested the results of the women’s figure skating competition, although the sport’s international governing body said Saturday it has not yet received the letter.
International Skating Union rules always have required such protests be filed immediately after the event.
The Koreans believe the judging was biased and cost Yuna Kim a second gold medal. The 2010 champion finished with silver, behind Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova.
Much of the uproar over the women’s free skate centers on what many perceived as a lack of artistry in Sotnikova’s program. Yet her marks were comparable or better than those for the highly artistic Kim. Her technical marks were significantly better.
Bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy also fell into the same category as Kim in her marks.
An International Olympic Committee spokesman on Saturday said any figure skating issues would be a matter for the ISU to handle.
The ISU said it had not received the letter, and declined to comment further.
Russia won gold in the men’s 4x7.5-kilometer relay on Saturday, the final biathlon event of the Sochi Olympics.
Anchor Anton Shipulin beat Germany’s Simon Schempp on the final lap to give the host nation its first biathlon gold of the Games.
Russia missed eight targets before finishing in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 15.9 seconds. Shipulin was 3.5 seconds in front of Germany and 29.8 ahead of third place Austria.
Defending champion Norway led for most of the competition but dropped to fourth after anchor Emil Hegle Svendsen missed three targets in his final shooting, denying teammate Ole Einar Bjoerndalen the chance of winning a record ninth career Olympic gold medal.