2000 Canadian Sport Awards
ALSO ON SLAM!
National Four-Man Bobsleigh Team
Nominated by Bobsleigh CanadaWhen Canada's four-man bobsleigh team of Pierre Lueders of Edmonton, Ken LeBlanc of Beaverton, Ont., and Matt Hindle and Ben Hindle of Calgary took to the track at the 1999 world championships, they were united in their determination to end their country's 34-year medal drought in the event. A few years ago, their season of top start times and consistent top-10 finishes would have been cause for celebration. But pilot Lueders and company had tasted victory, and anything less than a medal simply would no longer do.
The task was far from easy. Along with handling the joys and stresses of being the 1998 Olympic two-man champion (with Dave McEachern), Lueders was in the throes of rebuilding his four-man crew, working with a new pilot coach, and adjusting to a new overall team structure. Despite constant work, unwavering dedication, and a strong sense of teamwork, the podium remained elusive as the season progressed and a certain amount of frustration set in. The way to succeed at the world championships, Lueders reasoned, was through a focused, determined approach. It worked. Driving the infinitely challenging track of Cortina, Italy, the Lueders team captured the bronze medal, Canada's first since the Victor Emery team won the gold medal in 1965 in St. Moritz.
The victory was particularly sweet because it silenced critics who pegged Lueders as strictly a two-man specialist. It also established the team as a legitimate contender for future world and Olympic medals.