Lueders the Legend Leaves the Track

The Canadian bobsleigh program is in good shape, judging by the gold, silver and bronze medals captured several months ago at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Thus, it seems no better time for the veteran who helped build the sport in Canada for two decades to call it quits, with the future in capable and successful hands.

Pierre Lueders has retired from bobsleigh. He will become a coach with the national team, a certifiable legend and easily the most decorated athlete of any sledding sport – and perhaps any sport, period – in Canada’s history.

Lueders joined the national bobsleigh team in 1990, two years after the Calgary Games featured Canada’s first sliding facility. In 1992, Lueders captured the first of many World Cup gold medals. Then, his career truly began its ascent.

The pilot is a five-time Olympian, steering both the two-man and four-man sleds at every Games since 1994. Along the way, he won two medals. In 1998 in Nagano, Lueders and Dave MacEachern won Olympic gold in the two-man. It was Canada’s second medal in the sport, and the first since 1964. In 2006, Lueders leapt back to the podium with Lascelles Brown, winning a silver medal in two-man. Along the way, he added one fourth- and three fifth-place results (two of them in 2010).

The 1998 gold medal was Canada’s first-ever in the two-man event, Canada’s first in bobsleigh’s modern incarnation, and helped propel bobsleigh to new heights in Canada. “It changed the face of the sport,” MacEachern told The three-time Olympian said that Lueders’ tenacity, stubbornness and belief in himself helped make him and those around him successful in a winter sport that until recently existed outside the spotlight.

Lueders’ career count of World Cup medals is an astonishing 88. That includes 28 gold medals in the two-man event. He was world champion twice in the two-man in 2004 and 2005, while adding six more World Championship medals from 1995 through 2007. He has captured six overall World Cup titles in the two-man, one overall title in the four-man and four combined World Cup championships.

Until the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, he owned two of Canada’s three Olympic bobsleigh medals. You will be hard-pressed to find a more decorated Canadian athlete than one Pierre Lueders.

Part two of this article will soon appear on, featuring an interview with Dave MacEachern. It marks the evolution of bobsleigh in Canada, drawing a line between Lueders and other Canadian bobsledders of the past and the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s bobsledders in Vancouver 2010. The sport’s rise to prominence in Canada has much to do with these trailblazers in decades past.