Lumsden shows promise on sled

'I think Jesse did excellent:' Coach

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EDMONTON — Jesse Lumsden is one week away from being an Olympian.

The Edmonton Eskimos' running back, along with Neville Wright, the Edmonton sprinter, both passed major tests this weekend despite so-so results at a World Cup bobsled event in Konigssee, Germany.

Maybe it didn't look like a particularly successful weekend – eighth in two-man and ninth in four-man. But it was successful enough that the two Edmontonians almost certainly have punched their tickets to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games with Edmonton driver Lueders despite the rather remarkable circumstance of neither having sat in a bobsled at this time last year.

“It's shaping up that way,” said Canadian coach Tuffy Latour of their making it to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games in a cell phone interview as he drove from Konigssee to St. Moritz after the race yesterday.

“We have to nominate the team to the Canadian Olympic Committee on January 17th,” he said.

Lueders plans to keep the same line-ups for the famed St. Moritz race this weekend, the last before the nomination date.

For Lumsden, Saturday was his first World Cup race in two-man and his first World Cup weekend as Lueders main man in both two-man and four man races.

“I think Jesse did excellent,” said the Canadian coach of the Eskimos' running back.

The actual results don't mean much, he said.

“Any time you get snow like we had it affects the starts. And Pierre is still nursing his groin injury. He's still not back to 100%. Better results are ahead,” he said.

“In the four-man, they're getting there, too. With Jesse, Neville Wright and Justin Kripps, they're getting better every week,” he said, including the Summerland, B.C. veteran Kripps.

“Neville is going well now. He's taken a little bit longer to get used to it. Jesse is a very quick study. Right from the beginning with Pierre at the national championships last spring you could

just see he's a natural. Neville has taken longer, but he's getting there.”

Lueders, the Nagano '98 gold medal winner and Torino 2006 silver medal winner who has won eight world championship medals and 88 World Cup medals including 34 World Cup wins, six overall World Cup titles in the two man and another in the four-man and four combined overall World Cup titles in his career, doesn't like finishing eighth and ninth three events out from the Olympics.

But he was O.K. with the weekend at the same track where he and Lumsden blew the doors off everybody with a 4.86 start time to win a two-man Europa Cup event in Lumsden's international debut back before Christmas.

“The snow and our draw didn't help,” said the pilot upon arrival in St. Moritz. “But I was really encouraged. The guys pushed well. Jesse has improved in every race and every run.

“We're jelling well. There's real good harmony, good team-work and a good atmosphere around our group.”

Lumsden was hoping to make the same kind of impact in the World Cup two-man as he had at the Europa Cup.

“The first run went O.K.. We want to be in the 4.80s and it was 4.90,” he said of the start time in the two-man.”

But then they got the worst of it with the snow.

“You can really see we're building up for bigger things. We pushed and loaded very well this weekend. It was a big stepping stone for us.

“If we continue to progress, we're going to create some chaos in the next couple of races.”

And a week from now, it's has almost become a certainty, a CFL football player who busted his shoulder in the first quarter of his first game as an Edmonton Eskimo, is going to become an Olympian.

“It's going to be an exciting week, that's for sure,” said Lumsden. “But I can't even think about it yet. It's hard not to think about it. But ask me next week.”

It's Lumsden's final exam at the birthplace of bobsleigh and skeleton on the only natural (non-refrigerated) track that hosts international competition dating back to the 1928 and 1948

Olympic Winter Games. That in itself makes it an exciting week.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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