Will Lueders quit after these Games?
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
Speculation is rampant about whether Pierre Lueders will make this his final Olympic Games. (File photo)
VANCOUVER — Is this it? Is this where the legendary career of Canadian bobsled pilot Pierre Lueders comes to a conclusion?
“I hope he’s finished now. I’ve been waiting for him to take over the business,” snorts his 72-year-old father,
Heinz Lueders, who owns several businesses but the big one, Cristallo Holdings, involves recycled rubber with 23 world-wide patents.
“Pierre named the business 18-years ago,” he said, incredulously, about how long he’s waited. “Cristallo Corner is the most famous corner at the Cortina bobsled track, just like Lueders Loop is at Whistler.
“I ask him straight out. Is this the end? I don’t get a real answer. I keep hearing rumbles — 2014, 2014, 2014.
“When he got into this, it was supposed to be a short-term thing. It was only going to be a few years. Now I say to him ‘Isn’t it time yet? You’ve been 20 years in this thing. This is your fifth Olympics.’
Fifth, but maybe not final.
“My son is a strange man. He keeps everything to himself,” said Heinz “I don’t press the issue. He talks more to his mom than he talks to me. She’s his coach. But I’ve heard the rumbles — 2014. I think he doesn’t want to tell me.”
Mom is the irrepressible Katie Lueders, as delightful a woman as you’ll ever meet. Heinz was speaking from the office yesterday. Katie was at their West Edmonton home. But they’ll both be in attendance for the first two heats of the event tonight in Whistler.
“Pierre hasn’t said. He really hasn’t said. All I know is that he still has the drive and still has the dedication he’s always had,” said Kate. “And I know he’s really, really ready for this. He’s always looked forward to this. The Olympics in Canada and it being his fifth has made it very, very special for him.
“But, he hasn’t said he’s ready to retire. I haven’t heard from him one word.”
Wife Sandra, who is staying in a condo at Whistler while her husband resides in the athletes village, says anybody assuming this is ‘The End’ doesn’t know her husband.
“There is no sign at all that this could be or will be the last. Christoph Langen went well into his 40s,” she said of the German great.
“To be totally honest I don’t know. I think he’ll do what he does after every Olympics, take some time away and consider everything involved.
“I know he still cares what he does. And he’s in real good spirits. We’ve talked every day.”
Sandra was speaking on her cell phone from a Whistler ski hill where she had daughters Zoe, 7, and Maya, 4, on the slopes.
“Our girls are real excited. They’re starting to get it. They’ve seen Pierre in the commercials. Zoe was in
the ‘Believe’ commercial with him. She’s in grade two and they had Pierre come to her school and gave him a standing ovation. That was very special to him.”
Tuffy Latour, the Canadian coach, says it’s definitely going to be interesting what happens here and what happens after here.
“If Pierre drives like he did here two weeks ago at our Olympic training camp, I don’t think a medal would be a surprise. It’s the Olympic Games. It’s where experienced veterans step up.”
As for the future?,” said Latour.
“He hasn’t said anything to me. It’s been business as usual. He very well could continue another four years. He’s certainly not getting smoked at the starts. I think he could go on, no problem at all.”
Jessie Lumsden, the Edmonton Eskimos’ running back who is pushing Lueders’ sled in both the two-man and four-man, has made a study out of Lueders in this secondary career which he began at this time last year.
“I’m so thankful he gave me this opportunity,” said Lumsden. “It’s been more than I dreamed it would be. And
it’s been going well. There have been quite a few crashes but we’ve had some real good solid runs. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the race.”
But surely Lumsden has picked up a hint, a vibe, an inkling of what Lueders is going to do?
“No idea,” he said. “We don’t talk about that.
“All I can tell you is that he’s very, very prepared and that he’s been very, very prepared for this for a long time.”
And Pierre? What does he have to say? Hey, it was the day before race day.
“Even I don’t talk to him the day before race day,” said Sandra. “We’ve been together for 15 years and I’ve never talked to him the day before the race.”
PEIRRE LUEDERS AT A GLANCE
Years Competing Internationally: 20.
Olympic Games: 5.
Olympic Gold Medals: 1
Olympic Silver Medals: 1
World Cup Medals: 88.
World Cup Gold Medals: 34.
Two-man World Cup Titles: 4.
Four-man World Cup Titles: 1
Combined World Cup Titles: 4.
World Championship Gold: 2.
World Championship Silver: 4.
World Championship Bronze: 2
Overall Medals Won: 98.