Thursday, February 19, 1998
Mis-sled or misunderstood?
Well, it did for one training run early this morning, anyway.
That Lori and his Canada II four-man bobsled is going anywhere is news given the 35-year-old had stayed away from practice for a few days to get things "sorted out" after his disappointing finish in the two-man race on the weekend.
That's Lori's polite way of saying he walked away from practice because his brakeman in the two-man competition, Jack Pyc, was in Pierre Lueders' four-man sled and not in his.
Lueders won the gold Sunday with Dave MacEachern as his brakeman and they are now joined in the Canada I sled by Pyc and Ricardo Greenidge of Ottawa.
Lori is to race with the Hindle twins, Matt and Ben, and Edmonton's Ian Danney. That leaves Ottawa's Sheridon Baptiste and Ken Leblanc out in the cold.
Lori's little sabbatical -- some might call it a fit of Pyc -- probably will strike a lot of Canadians as selfish. Why split Canada's bobsledding brawn between two sleds and have them both record a respectable finish when you could load one up and go for a medal? This is Lori's last Olympics and he wants to go out as big as he can. That's understandable. What isn't understandable is that Lori would walk out on his teammates because he didn't get his way.
But that's bobsledding, where the competition is as hot within the team, maybe hotter, than it is on the track. Bobsledders are equal parts brawn and bravado, who think nothing of slamming a teammate if they think they're the better man.
"The situation we're in now is essential," Lori said after his last run early this morning, a big improvement over his first. "You need to have guys competing against each other. It's very helpful rather than creating problems. It's like being in a corporate environment with some interdepartmental conflict except it's on a sports field."
Lori was getting some ribbing yesterday.
As he walked away from the weigh house at the end of the track, a voice wafted down from above.
"Hey, Chris," it said. "Nice to see you."
"I've been hearing that a lot today," Lori said.
Nice might not have been the word his teammates used.
Team leader Jeff Hugill has been busy trying to cope with the gold-medal euphoria and the Lori powder.
"We've had a few distractions," was the way he politely put it. "A lot of little things happened that we had to put aside.
"I guess you could call it post-gold stress phenomenon. It's too new to us. Winning the gold, telephone calls from the prime minister, having to go here and there, it's not the situation you would ideally like (to prepare for a race). But it's the price of winning gold in the Olympics. Now we've put it to rest."
Lori was just 12th in the two-man. His last of the four runs was 14th best. There's no doubt Lueders is the better driver and, to carry Lori's business analogy a little further, the golden rule applies in bobsled as well as the rest of the world: He who has the gold makes the rules. Why not give Lueders the chance for another medal?
Hugill said Lori's lack of practice runs wasn't a big deal, partly because he raced here last year at the world championships.
"We're confident he knows where he wants to be. He's competitive, they're both competitive, that's why we're here."
Not that Lori's happy.
"Our start won't be real strong and we're in the second group," he said of Canada II's seeding (the top sleds get to go early, an advantage because the track gets chewed up and slows down with each of the four runs, two early tomorrow morning and two Saturday).
"We'll do fine. We won't be in the top five, but I've got to work with what I've got."