Eskimos fully behind bobsled adventure

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 AM ET

Just because his new career is all about going downhill doesn’t mean Jesse Lumsden has to let the same thing happen to his old one.

The Canadian bobsledder is using the Olympic track to get his football job back on the right track.

Although there’s nothing more delicious in the game than a full-blown quarterback controversy, the Edmonton Eskimos will have their just desserts choosing a starting running back should Lumsden return to the team following the Games. And that’s not a bad problem to have.

“We’ll see how that goes down,” said Eskimos general manager Danny Maciocia. “That will be interesting because we have a pretty good guy there right now.”

After Lumsden went down with a shoulder injury in his first quarter of action last year and underwent season-ending surgery, import running back Arkee Whitlock stepped up to become the Eskimos first 1,000-yard rusher since Troy Davis accomplished the feat in 2006.

And now, with the possibility of Lumsden’s return to training camp where he would fight for the No. 1 job in the spring, Maciocia and the Eskimos coaching staff will look to answer all kinds of questions about the Edmonton-born athlete.

Topping the list must be the durability of Lumsden’s shoulder, which took a punishing hit from former Eskimos linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz in last year’s season opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But there are also considerations of Canadian-content rules and salary cap to take into account, as well as the growing pains the team went through during Whitlock’s rookie CFL season.

But the answers, as well as Lumsden’s overall future with the Eskimos, will have to wait to be answered.

“I have not spoken to him for the simple reason that I know that he’s focused on these Olympics, he’s focused on this event,” Maciocia said. “I just think you let him be, you let him go about his business.

“This takes place over the next 16 days so by the end of February, beginning of March, I’m sure we’ll be talking.”

Until then, there’s not much to do but watch Lumsden represent his country along with the rest of Team Canada.

“I’m looking forward to watching everybody from Canada compete,” Maciocia said. “Obviously, having someone like Jesse who had been through here last year, I’m not a big bobsledding kind of guy but I will be watching it this year just to see how he does and I know he’s worked hard for this and hopefully it will work out for him.

“I hope he does well and I hope he can get to the podium and bring home gold.”

TOP ACQUISITION: Lumsden came to Edmonton last year as the Eskimos’ top acquisition in free agency following four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-cats. Although hampered by shoulder, knee and ankle injuries, he had an impressive 6.7 yards per carry in his last two years with the Tabbies.

While his first two CFL seasons were spent trying to break into the NFL, injuries have cut short each of his last three and Lumsden has yet to play a full regular season in the league.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

SIDE:

Jesse Lumsden will face his first Olympic competition on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Whistler Sliding Centre in the first heat of the two-man bobsled event with fellow Edmontonian Pierre Lueders, a five-time veteran of the Games.

The second heat takes place the following day at 1:30 p.m., with the medal race beginning at 3:05 p.m.

The two are back in action the following Friday, Feb. 26, in the four-man event with the medal round scheduled for the next day at 2:35 p.m.

Prior to last Friday’s opening ceremonies, the Edmonton Eskimos caught up with their running back, who took time out of his preparations to do an interview that can be found at http://www.esks.com/article/lumsden-set-to-take-to-the-world-s-stage.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be representing your country at this level of competition,” Lumsden stated in the interview. “The idea of representing your country is a huge accomplishment. The buzz of the city and positive support from the support staff, volunteers and security has been unbelievable.

“They have been amazing and that has been my favourite part so far.”

Nothing in his football career could have prepared Lumsden for the experience of hitting 130 kmh on a bobsled track.

“It’s extremely tough to describe,” he said. “It’s kind of like the old wooden roller-coasters where you just got banged around while going unbelievably fast.

“Any sort of video you see cannot do it justice, but it’s a ton of fun and I have enjoyed every single ride I have ever gone on.”

It was a little easier for Lumsden to describe the buzz in Vancouver during the buildup to the Games.

“There is lots of excitement right now as all the athletes have just received our clothing for the opening ceremonies,” he said last Thursday. “Right how, it’s more relaxed but we’re just about to do a big media thing.

“After the opening ceremonies and when the first events start up, it’ll be electric here.”

– Moddejonge


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