Four the record!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

CALGARY -- When the two-man bobsled run is done, Pierre Lueders is done. Resume Olympic coverage. Do not return to bobsleigh venue. That's always been the deal. Not now.

All of a sudden it's a whole 'nother story - a story which brings us back to Canada Olympic Park for a second straight weekend to find out if Lueders can go where no Canadian has ever gone before ... and, this time, take three passengers with him.

It all projects, of course, to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino. It's the final weekend of the World Bobsleigh Championships, and the Edmonton pilot goes in with a chance, a very real chance, to do what only a very few bobsled drivers have ever done.

"It's rare,'' says Lueders. "It's very rare. To win both the two-man and the four-man, I'd say, is the toughest thing you can do in this sport.''

It was required here yesterday that Lueders talk about it. He's trying not to think about it.

"I'm not really looking at doing that. You can't think about an end result. You have to think about having a good result.

"The fault of too many athletes in our sport is they think too much about standing on the podium winning a medal and not enough about how to get there.''

WORLD CHAMPION

Last weekend, with Lascelles Brown aboard, Lueders became the first Canadian to win back-to-back two-man world championships and the first to win a world championship at home. Lueders won gold in two-man at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, but nobody bothered to go back to cover him in the four-man.

"A lot of times a lot of teammates didn't think we (had a) chance in four-man and didn't really want to be in the four-man sled with me,'' said Lueders, who will have Brown, Morgan Alexander and Ken Kotyk loading themselves into the sled with him.

"I finally got four-man to where I want it to be - a medal contender in World Cup, World Championships and, hopefully, Olympics.'' You wouldn't call Lueders the favourite. But he's got a shot, a serious shot.

"There are five or six of us who most people think can win this,'' says Lueders.

THE FAVOURITE

German Andre Lange, the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic gold-medal winner and three-time world champion, would be the favourite. The 31-year-old could become the first since 1924 to win three in a row. Even bobsled legend Wolfgang Hoppe didn't do that.

Russia's Alexander Zoubkov, the World Cup title winner this year, Switzerland's Martin Annen and American Todd Hays are all contenders for the medal.

Lueders has only won one four-man medal at the world championships, a bronze in 1999. Canada has twice before won gold in four-man, but you have to go back to Vic Emery nearly half a century ago.

But Lueders scored a huge win in four-man at the historic St. Moritz, Switzerland track and made Canadian hopes soar for the Torino Olympic Winter Games next year when he won silver in both two-man and four-man on the pre-Olympic World Cup race on the track in January. There's been an aura of secrecy around his sled ever since.

"We made one technological addition for the four-man. I'm not going to tell you what it is but it cost a lot of money. If I told you, I'd have to kill you.''

So what's the Top Secret component?

"It's more than one component. I spent $43.76 for a couple of pieces to the package which might have been as important as the big-ticket item. It's a combination of a whole season of adjustment to the sled, different runners, different parts of sled. You could say we found three-tenths of a second in the combination of them all.''

Three-tenths of a second is a lot in bobsled racing. Lueders won the two-man by 0.14.


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