Pierre just keeps rollin'

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Normally, an Edmonton sporting winter is sprinkled with stories of success at several places around the planet by enchanting young Jennifer Heil and crusty old Pierre Lueders.

It hasn't been the same this year.

Heil, the 24-year-old pride of Spruce Grove, hasn't competed in an event and is expected today, at a media conference in Montreal, to officially announce she won't be back until next season.

There will be no fifth straight overall moguls World Cup title for Heil to go with the ones she won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. No 20th World Cup gold or 37th World Cup medal for the Torino Olympic gold medal winner.

But Lucky Pierre is still out there.

TOP SPOT

The 37-year-old Edmonton bobsled pilot was having what seemed like a quiet year with only one two-man win before taking the four-man gold on Sunday in Cortina, Italy. The victory moved him into top spot in the World Cup four-man standings.

By the end of the year, Lueders could be making big news. Nobody in the entire history of bobsled racing has had 100 international podium placings, but he's rapidly closing on that milestone.

The Cortina win was his 32nd World Cup gold and his 83rd World Cup podium.

Add his Olympic gold, Olympic silver, four world championship golds, four silver and two bronze and that's a total of 37 gold medals and 95 podiums in his career.

Lueders, in fact, will make history this weekend on the Torino run where he won Olympic silver.

"It'll be the 100th two-man World Cup race of my career," said Lueders of the race Friday which replaces a snowed-out two-man in Cortina.

"I've had 99 in two-man and 86 in four-man," he said. "One hundred is a nice round number that obviously tells you you've either being doing something right or at least something for quite a while," he laughed.

"It certainly shows longevity. Normally in our sport, two Olympics and eight years is about the normal life cycle.

"To put together these kinds of numbers is something I never would have imagined when I got started," said the guy who's an obvious flag-bearer nomination for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games -- which will be his fifth Olympics.

And he's not saying he won't go on to 2014.

"Right now I could stay or I could stop. The way things are going right now, I'd be tempted to stay. All I know is that whenever I go, there will be no emotional goodbyes. I'm not going to have a big press conference or anything like that. I'll just go away."

Before going away he'd like to win the four-man World Cup title again.

He won it once before, in 2005, but says that one was kind of chintzy.

"The Germans and Swiss didn't compete in every race. That didn't have the same significance now as when I won it. They changed the rules and points system to make sure the top teams are racing every event," said the pilot who has notched three thirds in the four-man this year.

WANTS FOUR-MAN GOLD

Lueders would love to win gold in the four-man to go with his Nagano gold in two-man.

"Now there are a lot of really good athletes in the program. We have good sleds and runners. And I have a much better understanding of how to drive the thing," he said.

Lueders said he could write a book about the differences in driving a two-man sled compared to a four-man.

"The best I can do is tell you the two-man is like driving a sports car and the four-man is like driving a bus."

Lueders had a crew of Ken Kotyk of Rama, Sask., David Bissett of Edmonton, and World Cup rookie Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., pushing in Cortina. Olympic silver medal-winning teammate, Lascelles Brown, of Calgary, had the week off.

"This year we're trying to rotate guys through. If you use the same guys every week, by the time the world championships roll around you'll have them burned out," said Lueders, who maybe noticed how the chuckwagon drivers use their horses at the Calgary Stampede.

For sure, he figures he finally has the horses.


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