Pierre Lueders hates settling for second, especially when he and his team have seemingly done everything right. Due to a technical glitch yesterday at the bobsled world championships, Lueders is 0.13 seconds off the pace set by Germany's Andre Lange after the first two runs of four-man competition.
Following a Canada Olympic Park record opening slide of 53.24 seconds -- which Lange promptly bested by three hundredths -- a push bar on Lueders' sled refused to retract.
The bar stuck on the side wall and, when it did come into place, dragged on the ice the rest of the way down the track.
When he got out of the sled at the finish area, the Calgary pilot screamed at his equipment.
"We were close to the wall and when it came down, it fell right on top of the wall," said Lueders.
"The guys in the back could hear it grinding. That's like putting the brakes on up there. It came down and fell on the wall, pretty simple."
Still, the time of 53.76 in that second run was behind only Lange's 53.66.
However, Lueders is a perfectionist who refuses to be satisfied with second place, even for a day.
He will try to chase Lange today (9 a.m.) after making adjustments to the sled last night.
And he has experience coming from behind. After the first two-man run last weekend, Lueders went from fifth to first to capture the title. It won't be quite so easy this time as Lange is one of the most consistent pilots in the world.
"I made up 12 hundredths in the last race," Lueders said. "Anything's possible. You don't have to do it all in one run. We'll try to do it half and half."
With the way Lueders' team of Ken Kotyk, Morgan Alexander and brakeman Lascelles Brown blasted out of the starting block, the pilot couldn't complain about his team or his driving.
The team's start time was 4.99 seconds in the second run, only fractions off the record time at Canada Olympic Park.
"That was a pretty good run on the second one," Lueders said.
"We only lost a 10th but I know from experience, if you have problems at the top, you'll lose a lot of time. The run itself was good. The start is really good, the guys are giving me good pushes."
Jayson Krause of Okotoks and his team of Nathan Cunningham, Mark LeBlanc and Bret Bresciani sit 16th after a two-run combined time of 1:48.77.
Russian Alexandr Zoubkov, the four-man World Cup winner, sits third, 0.10 behind Lueders, while Switzerland's Martin Annen is fourth, 0.13 off the Canadian's pace.
With two more glitch-free runs, Lueders' team should be able to win a medal.
"The driving has been the best it's been all week. The pushes have been the best all year," Lueders said.
"We peaked at the right time for this event.
"It's a tight race.
"It's not an insurmount-able lead.
"The Germans are pretty excited about their position but we'll put them under pressure."