Canada’s greatest bobsledder is about to be leading the charge against his homeland at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Pierre Lueders, gold medalist at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and silver medalist in 2006 in Turin, has agreed to coach the Russian bobsleigh and skeleton team for the Sochi Olympics. The decision, which will be formally announced in Moscow, comes a week after Lueders resigned his post as a development coach with Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton.
Lueders had said he wasn’t sure what his next course of action would be but, after being contacted by at least two other countries, he decided to accept the Russian offer saying it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“There’s still enough time for the Canadian team to make some transitions, as they will, and for my new team as well to transition,” Lueders told CBC Edmonton. “It takes time when coaches are brought in. There are new philosophies … It’ll be a completely different culture and language and some growing pains for sure. I think this was a great time to do it.”
Lueders will be taking over a Russian bobsleigh team that boasts Alexandr Zubkov, who has won Olympic silver and bronze along with the overall World Cup title last season in the four-man event. A five-time Olympian who won more than 100 medals in international meets, Lueders will give the Russians a blend of fierce competitiveness and technical savvy.
“I know what it takes to win there,” he said of the Olympics. “I also know how fickle it can be, and how quickly you can lose a medal within fractions of a hundredth [of a second].”
Lueders’ departure to coach a rival nation is nothing new in his sport. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has for years relied on European and American coaches and benefitted from the experience.