Gimme a brake

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:00 AM ET

His brakeman is suspended by Bobsleigh Canada and they haven't told him why or when he's going to get him back.

He laughs at the 'Own the Podium' program the Canadian Olympic Committee is promoting back home, especially the 'Top Secret' component to provide Canadian athletes with the best equipment in the world.

This past weekend he just finished second in both two-man, and shockingly, four-man, on the Torino 2006 Olympic run.

He's set up to come home and take a run at both podium positions at next month's world championships in Calgary.

And he wonders if anybody is paying attention to any of this, or even gives a damn.

"Is there still a hockey strike back home? You'd think Olympic sports would be getting more publicity back home this year. You're the first guy who has called me," said Edmonton's Pierre Lueders.

Lueders was calling from St. Moritz, Switzerland, where he'll take his two sleds into the second-last race of the World Cup season before the March Worlds at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.

With brakeman Giulio Zardo suspended by Bobsleigh Canada, Lueders won silver over the weekend with Lascelles Brown pushing to solidify second place in the World Cup season's standings.

NO FORESIGHT OR DESIRE

"I'd like to know the status of Giulio myself," he said. "Unfortunately the higher beings in our sport, as of right now, won't give me an answer to what is going on. No one seems to have the foresight or the desire to let me know what's going on. I'm the driver. It's pretty important for me to know."

Lueders said there was an incident at an event involving Zardo (rumours are he pushed a Canadian official) and that he was suspended indefinitely.

"No one has come out and told me that this is why he's suspended," said Lueders. "I've tried to find out. It's been extremely difficult. When it happened I was sliding down the track looking at corners going 135 miles per hour. I suspect it's typical amateur sport wanting to make examples out of people.

"But I'm coming home to run a world championship in Canada and I'd like to know what the heck is going on and if I'm going to have my brakeman."

He says he's heard about the 'Own the Podium' project and the goal of 35 medals for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"I also heard they don't consider bobsled, luge and skeleton as being part of the Canadian sports culture in terms of being on the 'A' list for funding."

A LAUGHING MATTER

He also laughs about the 'Top Secret' part of the project.

"If it's Top Secret, why are they talking about it to the public?" he says of the $11 million fund to give Canadians every technological edge possible.

"We made one technological addition for the four-man this weekend. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it cost a lot of money. I had to make a split-second decision on this.

"I approached our Canadian people and received no response.

"I decided to make the investment myself. I couldn't wait for some bureaucrat to make a decision. If we're going to do this, let's get the show on the road."

All that said, Lueders is over the moon with last weekend.

"The results were excellent. I can tell you a lot of people are very surprised at what we did in the four-man," said Lueders.

"We've had some results this year, but nothing as dramatic as this one. I took the year off in 2002-2003 and spent a lot of time and money getting ready for the four-man. We rebuilt the sled in Switzerland."

Lueders, who won the World Cup title in two-man last year and the Olympic gold medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998, says to have these results in both two-man and four-man on the Torino Olympic track is a huge confidence booster.

"This Olympic track is a new one and there is nothing like it in the world," he said.

"It is very technical. The time you lose at the start you are never going to make up. I like that."

Lueders is looking at the last two events to keep the roll going so Canada 1 has a real shot at success at the Worlds in Calgary.

"Two more good, consistent results and we'll be ready to go for Calgary," he said.

Give or take his main man, the brakeman.


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