Gold in Pierre's bronze

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

CALGARY -- Pierre Lueders came to make history. In the end he couldn't stop history from being made.

So why was the Edmonton pilot thrusting his arms in the air from out of his bobsled as he hit the finish line?

He didn't win gold.

He'd just lost silver.

What Lueders had done was manage to match history here as he equalled what Vic Emery did in 1965 - the only Canadian to previously win a medal in both two-man and four-man at the World Bobsleigh Championships. Emery did it the other way around, winning gold in the four-man and bronze in the two-man.

It was Canada's 10th medal at the world championships in its history. Lueders has won seven, and Emery the other three.

Lueders' attempt to be the first Canadian to do the two-man/four-man gold-medal double at Worlds was foiled by Andre Lange, becoming the first to win three straight four-man titles.

To do it, the German set a record on Lueders' home track. And World Cup champion Alexandr Zoubkov of Russia beat Lueders for silver on the final run.

At the end of the day, when the 34-year-old walked away from his season carrying his 2 1/2 -year-old daughter Zoe, who was waving Canadian flags in her little fist, all was well in his world.

"It's great to get a medal. That's the reason I celebrated," said Lueders.

THINKING DIFFERENT NOW

"Some teams didn't think we were legitimate in the four-man. I think they think different now.

"This is a great achievement. It's more than I hoped for at the start of the season. We had a couple of goofy things happen to us and we still ended up on the podium. That says something."

There's also no shame in losing to Lange.

In effect, the German pilot won four straight. In bobsled, there's no world championship on Olympic years. Lange won the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games and the three world championships since.

Nobody in all of bobsled history has ever turned a trick like that.

"It will take me a while to realize what I've done," said Lange. "But when I realize it, I'll celebrate."

Considering where Lueders used to be in the four-man, a bronze going into an Olympic year looks as good as gold.

Lueders has won 63 World Cup medals, the vast majority of them in two-man. He's won back-to-back world championships along with three silver medals at the world championships in two-man.

He was the overall World Cup champion in two-man two years ago to go with his ultimate accomplishment - the gold at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics in two-man.

Lueders lost time in Saturday's second run when the driver-side push bar, which failed to fold into the sled, created a bump and grind final run, which sealed his fate.

"We hit the wall out of the start gate. The back end hit the wall," he said. "You hit the wall at the top of this track and that's it. All your speed is gone. It's worse than what happened with the push bar. The two mistakes cost us the silver. I don't think they cost us the gold."

The Germans won it by 0.30 seconds. Lueders was 0.03 behind the Russians.

"I think we were beat by a little bit of experience," said Lueders of his four-man pushers, which included Ken Kotyk and Morgan Alexander, two 23-year-olds from Saskatchewan.

GAINING EXPERIENCE

There's only one way to get experience. And in terms of proceeding to next year's Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, they just got a heaping helping of it.

Lueders said it's not a bad thing for the two sodbusters to experience both success and failure at the same time - success in managing to manufacture the medal, failure to make it silver or gold.

They have a long summer and a lot of starts in the Ice House to think about how close they were.

And how far away.

In terms of Torino, that's not a bad thing.


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