Learning curve for sledder

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Every time Pierre Lueders safely guides the sled home, Morgan Alexander learns a little something more about his sport.

Through each awkward twist and turn, Lueders leads the way calmly and smoothly to the finish like the veteran he is. Away from the track, Alexander is also gleaning whatever he can from Canada's most decorated sliding athlete.

So it sure helps being the No. 3 man in Lueders' four-man sled this season, only his second full campaign on the circuit.

From Lueders, Alexander has learned a few things about how to conduct himself, especially after sharing a hotel room with the pilot the past few months.

"Pierre takes it pretty serious but he also knows you can't be thinking about bobsled all the time," said Alexander, who turns 23 tomorrow.

"Away from the track, he's done a good job leading us. If we're stressed out, we'll take some time off and go get a pizza. You can see the serious side as well, he's really a competitor."

Alexander is again taking a spectator's view of Lueders for the bobsleigh world championships at Canada Olympic Park, which starts tonight.

Canada 1 will be a favourite for the two-man competition (6 p.m.) as Lueders drives with brakeman Lascelles Brown.

Next week, Alexander will jump in the four-man sled with Lueders, Brown and Ken Kotyk for his first home-track event in two years.

It's been a long road for Alexander to get into Canada 1. His first season with the national team in 2002-03 was good for a rookie as he pushed for pilot Jayson Krause.

By the finish, Alexander had stress fractures in both shins. He took the next year off and came back with a heightened energy and a goal to ride in Canada's top sled.

"The time off was probably for the better," Alexander said. "I found out I had to work a little harder than I was. I trained really hard and did well during this season's training camp.

"The good thing is I get along really well with the guys on my team. That helps a little too."

The most important guide is Lueders, who is always willing to help Alexander adjust his pushing technique or give him advice in the gym on making his legs stronger and faster.

The mentoring makes committing to the sport long-term an easy decision for the former Lord Beaverbrook high school running back.

"I don't know if I can be there as long as Pierre but I would definitely like to stick around until 2010," Alexander said. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing so I don't want to speculate how long I can stick around in the sport."


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