Lueders fan club a noisy, dedicated bunch

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:31 AM ET

CALGARY -- When Canada 1 heads down the track, the Pierre Lueders Fan Club siren wails. Hans, the siren guard, is in charge.

He's one of the nine members of the fan club here experiencing what they hope will be the ultimate - a double world championship win - for their hero.

All nine are Germans.

How does it happen that nine Germans - actually there are almost two dozen of them, but only nine made the overseas trip to the World Bobsleigh Championships here - end up waving Canadian flags and cheering for a pilot from Edmonton?

"We all come from Winterberg, Germany, where they held the 1995 world championships,'' explains Rolf Pieper.

"We went to the championships just to have fun. The Germans won and we went to speak to them and they wouldn't speak to us.

"Pierre, that year, finished second in the two-man and fifth in the four-man. When he came in the tent, we gave him a big applause.

''Our German bobsledders wouldn't talk to us, but Pierre came over, spoke with us and sat down and partied with us.

"He told us his parents, Kate and Heinz, were originally from Germany.

"The next year we showed up at the world championships and cheered for Pierre instead of the German sleds and we've been to every world championships doing that since. We try to get to one or two World Cup events in Europe every year to watch Pierre as well.''

The fan club, which dresses in the same outfits proclaiming 'Pierre Lueders Fan Club' on the front, made up uniforms for Lueders' wife and daughter to wear here. And they're having the time of their life.

"Pierre asked us to come to his home,'' said Pieper. Lueders lives about a mile from the track and training complex here.

"We met his father and mother for the first time and they asked us to come to their home,'' he said.

So, up to Edmonton they went earlier this week, spent the afternoon at the Winterburn-area acreage, visited his childhood bedroom, which has been transformed into an amazing trophy room, and dined with his parents.

The siren had malfunctioned during Lueders' final run to win the two-man here last weekend. But Lueders' dad took it into his shop and fixed it for them.

"We couldn't believe that he'd try to repair it and then actually succeed at repairing it.

''We found it at a flea market. It's a real antique. It was used in World War II.''


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