Lumsden launching Lueders

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Jesse Lumsden is hooked.

The new Edmonton Eskimos running back admits it. He was hooked by the first corner of his first run in a bobsled.

And he can't wait to throw himself in the two-man sled behind legendary Edmonton pilot Pierre Lueders at the Canadian championships at the Whistler Olympic track tonight.

"It been a lot of fun. I didn't know what to expect. There's no explaining the sensation," said Lumsden, returning a call from Whistler yesterday when it became official, as first projected in this column two weeks ago, that he'd compete with Lueders at the event with an eye to the rather remarkable possibility of ending up in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

"I'm a big thrill-seeker. But there's no describing what it was like the first time into Corner 1," said Lumsden.

"I barely had time to think 'Oh, my God, that was amazing!' and we're in the next corner. It was kinda cool after that. But very, very exciting. It helps to be behind the best driver in the world. I felt safer with Pierre than I feel in a cab in downtown Toronto."

Lumsden, who spent two weeks at a camp at the Bobsleigh Canada facilities in Calgary after signing as a free agent with the Eskimos, had not taken an actual run in a sled until he arrived in Whistler for the two week camp for new recruits leading to the Canadian championships.

He's now an old veteran of 10 trips down the Olympic track.

"The first time all I had was a copy of the track to remember and information on some of the turns where the G-forces really hit."

Lumsden said he was surprised "how smooth" it was.

"It all feels very, very natural to me. You run hard, push, jump in, hold on, count 16 turns and pull the brake. You have five seconds running and then 50 seconds after that you pull the brake. Having said that, it's not easy."

Understand that a pusher in two man bobsled essentially puts his head between his legs and goes down the course blind until he has to pull hard on the brake. And the first time, you're not too sure about the timing of the brake bit.

"Pierre yelled back at me the first time," Lumsden said of the gruff and growly highly- demanding driver.

"I love Pierre. He's real competitive, prepared, passionate and wants to win," said Lumsden of the driver who has won Olympic gold, silver, 27 World Cup golds and 87 World Cup medals as well as eight world championships to make him, arguably, the most successful Olympic athlete in Canadian history.

One of the big thrills was just putting on the outfit.

"Putting on a uniform with 'Canada' on it is a very, very exciting feeling to have. Just to think it's possible to represent your country ...

"It's something I never thought about -- although my dad always said my body was perfect to be a bobsledder."

Lumsden isn't alone living this experience this weekend. A couple of other new guys have been doing a good job, too, according to program director Matt Hindle.

"Up to this point most of our new athletes have done well. Neville Wright, the track and field athlete we recruited from Edmonton, has done as good a job as Jesse if not better. Chad Rempel of the Tiger-Cats has also done quite well."

Lumsden said Rempel, a Sherwood Park native originally drafted by the Eskimos, has taken the entire journey with him to this point. "Chad will be with Trevor Irwin," Lumsden said of the Europa Cup driver.

"I don't know if this is just a one-shot deal or if it's something I'll be able to do beyond this weekend," said Lumsden of the big picture.

"No. 1, I want to win a Grey Cup with the Eskimos. But I've allowed myself to dream about winning a Grey Cup with the Eskimos and going through to February in bobsled. That would be a very long nine months, but it's a nice dream to have.

"All I can tell you right now is that it's been an unbelievable experience. I couldn't be happier that I decided to give this a try. It's pretty exciting stuff."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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