Double shot at podium

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

All's well that ends gold.

And now that the citizenship issue has been resolved for brakeman Lascelles Brown, the bobsled track is clear for Pierre Lueders to go for gold times two.

The Edmonton bobsled pilot, who won two-man gold in Nagano '98 with brakeman Dave MacEachern, is the defending world champion in two-man with Brown and also finished third at the world championship in four-man with Ken Kotyk and Morgan Alexander also in the sled.

With Brown in the sled in Turin, Lueders has a double shot at the Olympic podiums for the first time in his career.

Lueders, 36, knows the way it is in bobsled at the five-ring circus. He won his gold in Nagano actually finishing tied for first to the 100th of a second.

"The Olympics are a different beast,'' he says. "They can bite you when you least expect it.''

There's a lot of game-playing with the drivers and teams on Olympic year.

A BIT OF THAT

"We've been doing a bit of that, too,'' said Lueders. "We've gone to a new sled and back to the old one in two-man.

''We've had another set of runners.''

In four-man, Lueders has only won four times. Only twice in Europe the Canadians were playing the game.

"What we were doing in four man was pretty much by design and that's all I'll say about it,'' said the Edmonton driver who has 24 World Cups, two world championships and an Olympic gold medal in two- man.

He won his first four-man in Europe last year at St. Moritz.

Lueders started the 2006 part of the schedule with his first two-man/four-man win of his career in Europe, doing the double in Konigssee, Germany.

"I think we made a big statement,'' he said.

CITIZENSHIP ISSUE

And he said getting the citizenship issue resolved was a big part of it. While it wasn't a done deal until Friday, Lueders said there was an event on Jan. 1 which sent them back overseas believing Brown would have his citizenship and they could concentrate on bobsledding.

"Momentum can really change. I'm a big believer in momentum. The big problem in the first half of the season is that it was lingering,'' he said of the surprising lack of results following the world championship to end the previous season.

"We sat down and said 'We can't go on like this.' We made a commitment to one another.

"Lascelles is a very unique individual,'' said Lueders. "He's team first and himself second.

''Sometimes that's very difficult to find in bobsled. He raises the competitiveness of all his team-mates.''

And having Brown a go for Turin won't be lost on the rest of the field.

"I would think most teams are a little worried now. We won the world championships last year.

''They know Canada is a force to be reckoned with when we're on.''

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MEDAL CHANCES

It's tough to bet against the defending Olympic champ in two-man.

PREDICTION: Gold

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CANADA'S TEAM

OTHERS COMPETING UNDER THE FLAG

MELLISA HOLLINGSWORTH

Eckville, Alberta/ Skeleton

Married to rodeo saddle bronc rider Billy Richards, Mellisa has been on the podium in all six events so far this World Cup season in skeleton. With two first, three seconds and a third, she is also the World Cup standings points leader.

JEFF PAIN

Calgary/Skeleton

Both the world champion and World Cup titlist last year in skeleton after missing a year due to injury, Pain was also world champion in 2002-03. Finishing sixth at the Salt Lake Olympics, Pain has won two World Cup races so far this season. He leads the men's skeleton World Cup standings.

LINDSAY ALCOCK

Calgary/Skeleton

Third overall in the skeleton World Cup standings this year, Alcock has but one podium performance, that one this past weekend in St. Moritz. The 2004 World Cup points champion, Alcock has won three Canadian titles. She was sixth at the Salt Lake Olympics.

HELEN UPPERTON

Calgary/ Bobsled

Won first World Cup two-women bobsled race this past weekend in St. Moritiz, Switzerland with pusher Heather Moyse of Summerside, PEI. Sits second to Sandra Kiriasis of Germany in overall standings. Born in Kuwait, Upperton has a first, two seconds, a third and a fourth in six events so far this year.

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ONE TO WATCH

THE FAVOURITE

ANDRE LANGE

Germany

Martin Annen, a cheesemaker from Arth, Switzerland, Annen finished first in the two-man World Cup standings last year and second in the four-man. And he was the drive who finished first to Lueders' second in last year's Torino pre-Olympic test event in both two-man and four-man. But Lueders says the one to watch is Andre Lange of Germany who has been laying low with a new-improved sled.

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WORLD RANKINGS

MEN'S TWO-MAN

1. Todd Hays, USA 460

2. Pierre Lueders, Canada 430

3. Andre Lange, Germany 402

4. Martin Annen, Swtland. 399

5. Alexander Subkow, Russia 389

(to update)

MEN'S FOUR-MAN

1. Martin Annen, Switzerland 395

2. Todd Hays, USA 350

3. Aleksandr Zoubkov, Russia 335

4. Pierre Lueders, Canada 330

5. Matthias Hoepfner, Germany 277

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SCHEDULE

SAT 18 - Men two

SUN 19 - Men two

MON 20 - Women

TUE 21 - Women

FRI 24 - Men four

SAT 25 - Men four


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