February 19, 2006
Sliding into a stormLueders keeps his cool as German controversy rages
By Terry Jones
CESANA PARIOL, Italy -- Pierre Lueders says let the Germans cheat. And let them look at the sheet.
It was the bobsled version of pointing to the scoreboard, as the Edmonton pilot sat second, .06 seconds out of the lead, going into the final two runs of Olympic two-man bobsled.
"I've been sliding 16 years and my coach has been around over 20. We're not stupid. You don't see things like that,'' he said of the effect of the German bobsledders using allegedly illegal runners at the Olympics.
"If that's the way they want to play, tell them to look at the sheet after the second run.''
Lueders came from fifth place after the first heat to win the second and blow away Germany 2 and move within .06 seconds of the favourite, Andre Lange in Germany 1.
"It's not the first time it happened," Lueders said. "It happened in a race in Cortina and another in Altenberg. I'm getting tired of it.
"I have to admit it fired me up for the second run.''
Lueders sits second, .14 seconds ahead of third-place Martin Annen of Switzerland, .31 ahead of Matthias Hoepfner in Germany 2 and .32 up on Russian Alexandre Zoubkov.
Those are significant margins in the sport where Lueders won his gold-medal finishing in a tie for first to the 1/100th of a second.
But the German runners are the real wild card as Lueders and brakeman Lascelles Brown go for gold today.
An American official told reporters that representatives of five countries met yesterday morning and expressed concern about the runners being used by both German sleds - but were waiting to see evidence in competition to file a protest. He said Canada was one of the nations involved.
Heaping helping of evidence
Lueders said there was a heaping helping of evidence out there on opening day. He said you could see it most dramatically in the way Hoepfner - in Germany 2 - made up time from a horrible start in the first run, going from 16th to fourth.
"That doesn't happen,'' said Lueders.
Lange went from sixth to first in the first run and had a 0.26-to-0.29 lead on the next four sleds. In the second run Hoepfner was 16th at the start again and moved up to sixth for the run.
Lange's brakeman Kevin Kuske had one of the worst loads in the history of bobsled racing for somebody who ended the day in first. He almost ended up in the sled head-first. That, and the fact that Lueders absolutely nailed the second run, allowed the Canadians to pick up 0.23 of the 0.29 they lost in the first run.
A German newspaper broke the story on the German runners in a story headlined "Cold Runners With Hot Coating.''
The article alleges the German bobsleds are using illegal runners on their sleds at the Olympics; that the rules do not support the new type of technology it has been discovered they are using on their sleds.
The report alleges a company called Plasma Tech. has treated the runners with what they call "Plasma Emmersion Implantation'' and that by using the technology, the Germans are essentially cheating.
The problem, said Lueders, is that the technical inspection is done by a German sled-maker."It's like having the head of Ferrari checking Ferrari for a Formula One race.''
Lueders said there are other countries far closer to the controversy than Canada. But he's the closest to Lange going into the final two runs today - so he'll let him sweat.
"I like to put the pressure on. I know what it's like to have the pressure put on you.''
Lueders said he really felt his own pressure leading up to the race.
"I have to say I was pretty nervous. I talked to my wife on the phone back home and she settled me down. I haven't been that nervous for years. It was great to get that first heat out of the way. I'm pretty happy with the way that second run went.''
Lueders said he's looking at everything here as bonus since Canada finally came through to give his Jamaican bobsled brakeman Lascelles Brown his citizenship last month.
"Just having Lascelles here makes this whole Olympics for me, regardless if we get a medal or what colour it might be,'' he said of the Calgary resident who was in the sled for his world championship win last year and finished first in the World Cup standings this year. "With a brakeman like that, I'm really happy.''
Maybe the Jamaican is rubbing off on the gruff guy.
Don't worry. Be happy.
Listen to 'Terry Jones At Large' weekdays at 8:07 a.m. on 790 CFCW.