KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Monterey's Nick Cunningham didn't have the Olympic start he had hoped after finishing 13th in the two-man bobsled competition Monday night at the Sanki Sliding Center.

But as he prepares for the four-man competition this weekend, the former Monterey High track star remained upbeat.

He was the first to give teammate Steven Holcomb a bearhug after the Utah driver won a bronze medal to break a 62-year drought for U.S. bobsledders in the event.

"He just showed again why he is one of the best in the world," Cunningham said. "He has elevated U.S. bobsledding. To be able to do four more years with him, it is incredible."

Alexander Zubkov of Russia won the gold medal while Beat Hefti of Switzerland the silver. Holcomb held on by .03 of a second for the historic bronze medal despite suffering a calf strain Sunday night in the second of four heats in the two-day event.

"I got chills being up there to celebrate," Cunningham said. "To break that medal drought is huge.

"He can read the ice. To listen to him do that, to hear concepts I never would have even thought of" makes Cunningham better.

Cunningham and partner Dallas Robinson got out of their sled with smiles because they had done their best. Ranked sixth in the world, the duo couldn't find the speed they needed on the unfamiliar Olympic track.


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"To leave here, we're not going to hang our heads," Cunningham said. "It's only motivation for us for next weekend."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.