Bethel’s Frank Del Duca secured a 13th-place finish Tuesday after the final round of the two-man bobsled competition at the Beijing Olympics.
The 31-year-old graduate of Telstar High School and the University of Maine was the driver on USA 1, which remained among the top 15 sleds throughout the two-day, four-run competition at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
Del Duca and teammate Hakeem Abdul-Saboor finished with a combined time of 4 minutes, 00.1 seconds, 3.21 seconds behind gold medalist Francesco Freidrich, who led a medal sweep of the event for Germany.
Del Duca’s sled had the 11th-fastest run during Tuesday’s first heat with a 59.86 clocking, then had the 12th-fastest final run with a time of 1:00.15.
The event began Monday with 30 sleds, but only the top 20 advanced beyond Tuesday’s first run.
The other U.S. two-man bobsled, piloted by Hunter Church, was in 23rd place after Tuesday’s first run, 4.94 seconds behind the leader, and did not qualify for the final heat.
Del Duca, a former UMaine track athlete and first-time Olympian, had his sled in 15th place after Monday’s first two runs with times of 59.87 and 1:00.72 for a combined 2:00.09, 1.71 seconds out of first place.
“I have some work to do at the start,” Del Duca said. “I’m somewhat pleased with how we did as a whole. I look at what I can do to improve. I think Hakeem did awesome.”
Abdul-Saboor said his pilot was being a bit too hard on himself.
“He did great,” Abdul-Saboor said. “We came out here, we gave it all that we’ve got. We have high standards so we always are reaching for the sky and think we can do better. But I think we’re sitting in a decent spot and we’re just out here to have fun.”
Monday’s runs of two-man came just a few hours after the conclusion of the women’s monobob event, where Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor grabbed gold and silver for the United States — the first gold-silver finish by American sleds in an Olympic bobsled race since 1932.
“Those two are so inspiring for what they do on the ice and outside the ice, just the way they carry themselves, the way they treat people, just the standard they set for bobsledders and people,” Del Duca said. “It’s amazing to even be around them.”
Del Duca is scheduled to return to Olympic duty in the four-man bobsled competition Saturday and Sunday. He is expected to be accompanied on his sled by former University of Maine track and field teammate Jimmy Reed.