February 25, 2006
Canadians 'pushing' to be on podium
KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

CESANA, Italy -- With a little more push and not so many nerves, the Canadian four-man bobsled team just might grab a medal today.

So says its leader and pilot, Pierre Lueders, who is hoping for more hardware to go with his two-man silver won six days ago.

The Canadians sit in the pouncing spot of fourth after two runs yesterday at Cesana Pariol ski resort, 90 kilometres from Turin.

Lueders and brakeman Lascelles Brown teamed up in the two-man. Now they'll try to use that experience to help guide teammates Ken Kotyk and Morgan Alexander, who were dealing with a dose of anxiety.

"I've got two young guys . . . and it's their first Olympics," said Lueders, who also won gold in the two-man in 1998 with Dave MacEachern. "I think maybe the first push, everybody was feeling a bit of the nerves. But in your first Olympics, you expect that."

Brown, a native of Jamaica who received his Canadian citizenship just before the Olympics, competed for his homeland in the 2002 Games.

The four Canadians set a track record in their first run, but it was surpassed three times. Their combined time is one minute, 50.77 seconds.

Andre Lange of Germany is in first place with a two-run time of 1:50.50. Martin Annen of Switzerland is 0.13 seconds behind, followed by World Cup leader Alexandre Zoubkov of Russia at 1:50.67.

Lueders, from Edmonton, said his guys need only to knock off a few hundredths of a second in each run to strike gold.

"If we have two stable pushes and two stable runs, we should be all right. Anything can happen," he said, pleased his team was speedier in the second run.

"The guys showed their true character, pushing one hundredth (of a second) faster. That's what this race will be about. If I have the same two runs, I'll be happy."

Lueders said Brown was doing everything he could to get the most out of the crew.

"He really motivated the guys on the second push. He knows now what it takes to win something at the Olympics. The other guys, they follow his lead."

Lueders laughed when asked how Brown inspired the team. "He gave them kind of a pep talk in his own little way, but we can't say that."

The Canadians were the second team down the pipe in the first run and Lueders said with the heavy snowfall, it was a disadvantage.

"We were a little bit handicapped with our draw. (We) might have been snowplows for the other guys, but maybe we'll have that advantage in our favour.

"But with the big four-man, it pushes everything out of the way. It's like a big bus."