Medal meddling

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

CALGARY -- Canada has Pierre Lueders down for two medals at the Olympics.

The Canadian Olympic Committee has him down for two of the 25 we're going to win in Torino and, long range, for two of the 35 we're going to win in Vancouver 2010.

So put him down for two medals here?

"That infuriates me," said the Edmonton pilot of those kinds of predictions and projections.

"They're not the ones who have to do it," he added here yesterday on the eve of the World Bobsled Championships.

"They take a look and say 'There's a Canadian who is doing well. Let's put him down for two.'

"I've never said I'm going to win two medals at the Olympics," said the driver who won gold in the two-man at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

"Somebody put 'two gold medals' - put those words in my mouth - here this week. Can you believe that?"

Lueders admits another world championship would look good on his resume. Two would be wonderful.

But whoa.

"To win would be great. It would be a nice touch to end a good season. We finished second in the two-man at the last world championships here in 1996. We won gold in Nagano. But look where we were in Salt Lake in 2002.

"It's taken a while to get back to where we can expect to do well. Little things have added up to a lot. It's taken a while to get where we're at. It's so infuriating when people all of a sudden are looking at us as a sure thing."

When the world championships begin here tonight with the first two runs of the two-day four-run two-man event, Lueders says it's not life or death.

"It used to be life or death for me. But I don't make things like life or death like I used to.

"I think I'm more motivated than I've ever been," says Lueders of going into the first world championship in Canada in nine years.

"But I'm getting old. I have kids now. At the end of the day, I have a great family life and things are great at home."

Lueders won his first world championship last year in the two-man. He has three times won the silver. His only world championship medal in four-man was bronze in 1999.

Winner of the World Cup title in 2002-03, he's been runner-up the last two years. In four-man, he finished third overall this year, by far his best season with three passengers along for the ride.

Lueders, who has medalled in nine of the 14 (six in two-man and three in four-man) races this year, has a total of 63 World Cup medals. Twenty-three of them are golds in the two-man and three golds in the four-man.

The combination of his recent success and the fact he's racing on his home track has created great expectations.

"All the guys here are excellent drivers and very track-wise," he said.

"I don't think there's a home track advantage. In fact, we have to be careful we don't think we can fall down the hill and do well.

"When you've had so many repetitions on the same track you can get into bad habits. That's something we have to be very aware of and work extra hard on at this world championship."

Lueders says he has no problem with pressure.

"I enjoy pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself.

"But I don't do this for anybody other than myself, my teammates and the average Canadian who cares about what we're doing. I enjoy that, when we're doing well and people are taking notice."

These last few years Lueders has become very disillusioned with the Canadian sports system, to the point where he's not as sure as he was before that he wants to continue through to 2010 and the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

"I think it will now depend on how I feel after the Torino Olympics. I've been very disappointed in the Canadian sports system after the last go-round."


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