Eight named to Canadian Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2012

Charmaine Hooper hoists the trophy Canada won by beating Italy 2-1 in an International friendly...

Charmaine Hooper hoists the trophy Canada won by beating Italy 2-1 in an International friendly match at Centennial stadium in this 2006 file photo. (QMI Agency)

Ian Busby, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

Every once in a while, Pierre Lueders gets his game-face on, jumps into a bobsled and guides it through tight corners to the finish line.

Those runs now are just to test sleds, making sure the equipment is ready for competition.

As coach for Bobsleigh Canada's development team, trial runs can't replace the thrill he left upon retirement in 2010.

Come to think of it, nothing could ever substitute for racing.

"I just loved racing," Lueders, the most decorated bobsled pilot in Canada's history. "I love sliding, but I really loved just racing and being put under the gun.

"Once you've been in that bubble -- whether it's a World Cup or a world championships or an Olympics -- it's an energy you pick up. You can feel it.

"For people who have been in those competitions, there's that buzz you get before a big event."

On Thursday, Lueders was recognized for his amazing career in being announced as one of 2012 inductees for Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 18, Lueders will be inducted along with Jeremy Wotherspoon (speed skating), Charmaine Hooper (soccer), Scott Niedermayer (hockey), Derek Porter (rowing), David Pelletier and Jamie Sale (figure skating) and builders Daryl (Doc) Seaman and Marion Lay.

Lueders drives by the Hall on his way to work at Canada Olympic Park, but Thursday was his first extended visit to the museum that opened last July.

Seeing exhibits for some of the 529 honoured members across 60 sports really put Lueders' career in perspective.

"It's incredible, the diverse history of sport," Lueders said. "From auto sport to speed skating, it's all represented in that Hall, so it's cool to be part of it."

There may not be a competitor more fiery than Lueders was during his racing career.

At age 39, his final races were at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when he had fifth-place finishes in both the two- and four-man events.

He retired with Olympic gold (1998) and silver (2006), two world championship wins and 11 World Cup victories.

Lueders' personal highlight was the 2004 world championship win Koenigssee, Germany, where his team and hometown favourite Christoph Langen's went head to head.

"To go in there and win on their track, when they were doing whatever they could to win and not let anyone else win, it was awesome," Lueders said.

"It was beating them at their own game. It sticks out more than any other race. It was a gladiator-type bobsled race. It was those two teams and everyone else was so far back.

"It was great racing. It was the best four runs I put together in a two-day race."

Lueders now focuses on training the next generation of pilots such as Justin Kripps and Chris Spring.

It's a role he's embraced.

But because of his intensity around the track, people constantly ask if he's making a comeback.

"It crosses my mind in a fantasy world," the now 41-year-old father of two said. "I certainly don't miss the heavy training. That would be the hard part.

"The time has come. There are other athletes who have taken over. My job now is to help them reach their goals."

Class of 2012 bios

Charmaine Hooper

Born: Georgetown, Guyana

Sport: Soccer

Hooper's 20-year career included becoming North Carolina State University's all-time leading scorer. Along the way, she played pro in Norway, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and Canada, plus established a record of 129 appearances with 71 goals at the international level for Canada.

Pierre Lueders

Born: Edmonton, Alberta

Sport: Bobsled

The five-time Olympian picked up gold in 1998 and had back-to-back world championship wins (2004-05). During his athletic career, he's won a total of 85 medals on the World Cup circuit, plus had eight podiums at the world championships.

Scott Niedermayer

Born: Edmonton

Sport: Hockey

The slick defenceman is the only hockey player to win every major North American and international championship in his career. He took home four Stanley Cups, a Memorial Cup, world junior and world championship titles, the World Cup and two Olympic gold medals.

Jamie Sale

Born: Calgary

David Pelletier

Born: Sayabec, Que.

Sport: Figure skating

Scandal broke at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake, but the figure skating pair held strong, showing class in getting robbed by bought judges. Eventually the issue was resolved, giving the duo their gold medal and declaring them Olympic champions.

Derek Porter

Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Sport: Rowing

In 1993, Porter switched from the men's eight event -- where he won two silvers at the world championships -- to skulling. In two Olympic Games following that move, he won silver and placed fourth. He picked up gold in the 1999 Pan American Games, winning on home soil in Winnipeg.

Jeremy Wotherspoon

Born: Humboldt, Sask.

Sport: Speed skating

The Red Deer-raised skater is the most decorated skater in World Cup history with 67 victories. The four-time Olympian is best male sprinter (500 and 1,000 metre events) in the history of the sport. He picked up a silver medal at the 1998 Olympics, and set 10 world records in his career.   

Marion Lay

Born: Vancouver

Builder 

After retiring as two-time Olympic swimmer, Lay established Canada's first government-led women in sport program, headed operations for Rick Hansen's 1985-87 Man in Motion World Tour, was the founder of the Canadian Sport Centre in Vancouver, served as chair of the Vancouver Olympic bid and is a member of the COC. 

Daryl (Doc) Seaman

Born: Rouleau, Sask.

Builder

Seaman was one of six Calgary businessmen to bring the Atlanta Flames to Calgary in 1980. Seaman and friend Harley Hotchkiss founded the Seaman Hotchkiss Hockey Foundation in 1980, which has contributed over $5 million to minor hockey development initiatives.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby

 


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