Three-hundredths of a second.
Back home in Shelby, Neb., that's not long enough for a corn kernel to fall to the dirt.
But Sunday in Sochi, 0.03 was the difference between crushing disappointment and rich satisfaction for Curt Tomasevicz.
Tomasevicz's bobsled team, USA 1, edged Russia 2 by three-hundredths for bronze, securing America's final medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Tomasevicz, riding behind pilot Steven Holcomb, won gold in Vancouver four years ago. But Sunday may have beat it.
“This had more satisfaction come with it, just because it was a test right to the very last push and the very last heat and even the very last curve,” Tomasevicz told The World-Herald via phone about an hour after the closing ceremonies.
“We were three-hundredths of a second away from coming in about the worst place you can finish in an Olympic Games (fourth).”
At age 33, Tomasevicz returns to Nebraska with a gold and a bronze. That's enough. He's retiring.
“This was the last race,” he said. “I've had a pretty epic career, I think, and crossing that finish line, I can't imagine a better way of finishing a bobsled career.”
USA 1 entered Sunday's two heats in fourth, 0.01 out of a medal. It moved into third entering the final heat, then watched from the top of the hill as Russia 2 scorched the track in 55.21. The Americans would need an excellent run to clinch bronze.
Tomasevicz helped push the Americans to the fastest start in the field — 4.79. From there, it wasn't their best run; Tomasevicz felt the sled tap the wall a couple times and skid slightly between turn 5 and 6. He knew it would be close.
In 2010, he crossed the line and didn't even need to check the time — he knew it was good enough for gold. This time, eight American eyes looked from the sled, searching for the clock. Tomasevicz saw it first — the U.S. was in first place. That meant even with Latvia 1 and Russia 1 still to race, the Americans couldn't fall lower than third.
From there, it was “complete chaos,” Tomasevicz said.
Still in the sled, Tomasevicz raised his arms. He tried to pull his helmet off his head, but it was stuck, so he gave up and smacked Holcomb on the shoulders.
“You go across the finish line, your emotions are going 100 different directions and then you're whisked off to the media gauntlet and 100 questions are fired at you right before the (drug) testing. And then you go to the medal ceremony right away and then you catch a bus pretty quickly to try to get down to the closing ceremony.”
He has collected countless memories in three Olympics, he said, “but this day very well could top them all.”
Tomasevicz, a Husker football walk-on from 2000-03, initially jumped in a sled 10 years ago. He wanted to stay in shape. He wanted a new challenge. He consulted Bryan Bailey, the Nebraska strength coach. Over lunch in the Lincoln Haymarket, Tomasevicz said he didn't want to make a mistake.
“The only way you'd fail is if you don't go,” Bailey told him. “because you're always going to have a regret where you say 'maybe.'”
The summer of 2004, Tomasevicz broke the news to his parents that was putting his engineering career on hold. He went to Calgary and made the U.S. team in '06, finishing sixth. Four years later, he climbed to the top of the sport when USA 1 blitzed the field in Vancouver, winning by 0.39.
Chasing a third Olympics was harder. There were moments, Tomasevicz said, when his body told him to stop. Four years is a long time to wait for an encore. Then, in Sochi, the bobsledders waited two full weeks to compete — it was like having a final exam on Friday afternoon.
It all paid off. Barely.
“Crossing that finish line with Steve, Chris (Fogt) and Steve (Langton) really made it worth it,” Tomasevicz said.
His next challenge? Transporting all his new red, white and blue Olympic gear, from Sochi to Munich to Chicago to Lincoln.
“Trying to get back to the U.S. with about four huge bags is not an easy thing to do.”
He'll check the bags. But the medal isn't leaving his side.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
* * *
Video: Bobseld report
Top 5 results from event:
1. Russia 1 (Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov, Alexey Voevoda), 3:40.60.
2. Latvia 1 (Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste, Janis Strenga), 3:40.69.
3. United States 1 (Steven Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton, Chris Fogt), 3:40.99.
4. Russia 2 (Alexander Kasjanov, Ilvir Huzin, Maxim Belugin, Aleksei Pushkarev), 3:41.02.
5. Britain 1 (John James Jackson, Stuart Benson, Bruce Tasker, Joel Fearon), 3:41.10.