Church, Williamson, Abdul Saboor and Volker top American team in four-man bobsled World Cup opener

by USA Bobsled/Skeleton

Contact: Amanda Bird, USABS Marketing and Communications Director
(518) 354-2250,

Church, Williamson, Abdul Saboor and Volker top American team in four-man bobsled World Cup opener


Team Church pushes off at the start during a training run (Photo by USA Bobsled/Skeleton)

Photo credit: IBSF/Viesturs Lacis

IGLS, Austria (November 21, 2021) –Hunter Church (Cadyville, N.Y.) teamed with Josh Williamson (Lake Mary, Fla.), Hakeem Abdul Saboor (Powhatan, Va.) and Charlie Volker (Fair Haven, N.J.) for eighth place in the four-man bobsled World Cup opener in Igls today. The crew was in the hunt for the medals after the first run, but a slip at the start and a stuck push bar complicated their final run. 

“To be honest, the whole week felt like it went 100 mph,” Church said. “It’s the first time I’m back in a World Cup environment in two years, and I’m playing catch up because of my injury. Coming away with a top eight today feels promising. There’s a lot to be improved on moving into next week, and we’re hoping to carry this momentum forward.”

Church has a new crew member this season; national push champion Volker, who made his World Cup debut today. Volker was discovered after he submitted his virtual combine on last season, and he quickly became one of the program’s top athletes.

Church only had three runs in a four-man sled before today. He required surgery in late September on his toe after accidentally dropping a weight on it, and he was unable to accompany the team to Beijing for the Olympic test event. 

“I think I healed up a lot faster than anyone anticipated, and I had high expectations because of how good my toe feels,” Church said. “But the lack of training is evident and I’ve got to get back in shape. Missing out on China and early season ice time caught up to me. We made a change to my steering system literally the night before the two-man race, and while there’s a learning curve, I feel confident that this is going to be the best setup for me moving forward. My runs weren’t perfect, but I’m closer to where I need to be and this is what will be most comfortable for me.”

Church, Volker, Williamson and Abdul-Saboor posted the fifth best start time of 5.04 seconds for the fifth best downtime of 50.78 seconds. The medals were within 0.12 seconds of their reach. 

The crew powered off the block in the second heat, but one of the push athletes slipped on the bunk while loading into the sled. He recovered, and the team clocked a start time of 5.10 seconds. Church led the crew to the finish in 51.26 seconds, which was 16th best of the heat. Church, Volker, Williamson and Abdul Saboor fell back three spots into eighth with a two-run total of 1:42.04.

Codie Bascue (Whitehall, N.Y.) teamed with Blaine McConnell (Tacoma, Wash.), Carlo Valdes (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Jimmy Reed (Garmisch, Germany) for a combined time of 1:42.39 for 14th place. The squad posted start times of 5.09 and 5.10 seconds for runs of 51.12 and 51.27 seconds, respectively. 

Germany’s Francesco Friedrich was victorious again. He teamed with Alexander Schueller, Thorsten Margis and Candy Bauer for a total time of 1:41.31 to secure the gold medal. Brad Hall, Nick Gleeson, Greg Cackett and Taylor Lawrence from Great Britain tied Johannes Lochner, Christopher Weber, Erec Maximilian Bruckert and Christian Rasp from Germany for the silver medal with a combined time of 1:41.57.

Today’s races conclude the first week of World Cup action. The tour will remain in Igls for week two of racing.

For media inquiries, please contact USABS Marketing and Communications Director Amanda Bird at



1. Friedrich, Schueller, Margis and Bauer (GER) 1:41.31 (50.54, 50.77);

T-2. Hall, Gleeson, Cackett and Lawrence (GBR) 1:41.57 (50.66, 50.91);

T-2. Lochner, Weber, Bruckert and Rasp (GER) 1:41.57 (50.62, 50.95);

8. Church, Volker, Williamson and Abdul Saboor (USA) 1:42.04 (50.78, 51.26);

14. Bascue, McConnell, Valdes and Reed (USA) 1:42.39 (51.12, 51.27);

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