Sunday, February 22, 1998
No crowning glory for Lori
"I was kind of indifferent to the whole thing," bobsled driver Chris Lori of Windsor said. He ended a tumultuous week and his career at the Spiral track with an 11th-place finish in the four-man bobsled competition with his crew of Ian Danney of Edmonton and twins Matt and Ben Hindle -- Matt sliding once again with a sutured gash in his shoulder after getting hit with a piece of glass in the athletes village Wednesday.
Pierre Lueders of Edmonton, who won the gold in the two-man competition last weekend, was ninth with his crew of Ottawa's Ricardo Greenidge, Jack Pyc of Calgary and Dave MacEachern of Charlottetown.
"It's time to go skiing at Whistler and go to the Caribbean," Lori said outside the weighing house, a fine snow landing on his ballcap.
"It's kind of a shame things turned out the way they did."
The bobsled team has long been on an emotional roller coaster (if you'll pardon the analogy), with infighting usually more fierce than that with the competition.
It was that way this week again with Lori sitting out a couple of days of practice because he didn't like the makeup of the two teams.
He wanted Pyc, his brakeman in the two-man, in his sled for the four-man competition, but the men who make these decisions disagreed. Lori must have been left feeling as though this weekend was wasted.
"It wasn't good or bad," he said. "On our last run we finally got back on even ground. We pushed well and we showed where we should fit in with this team."
While Lori proclaims indifference, there is no way he could feel anything but frustration. This was his last Olympics and he might have felt he deserved the better crew and the best shot at a good result -- even though Lueders had won a gold medal in the two-man. But, as is often the case in bobsled, there is no place for loyalty or sentimentality.
The sliders played down the impact of Lori's actions this week.
"It wasn't really a distraction," Lueders said. "For me, the biggest thing was the fatigue from the two-man. The first two days of training (for the four-man) were difficult. Monday was a waste of time."
Lueders had been hoping for a top-six finish, but said he figured the cancellation of Friday's second run -- because of heavy rain which was changing conditions too much and making the track unfair -- hurt his sled.
"It's unfortunate we missed that one heat," said the 27-year-old from Edmonton, who with MacEachern earned Canada's first bobsled medal since 1964, in the thrilling dead heat for top spot with Italy's Guenther Huber. "We were clawing our way back, but we couldn't climb the mountain with just two runs."
Lueders started the day in 10th place and turned in times of 53.44 seconds and 53.81 seconds for the last two runs to finish .18 of a second behind winner Christoph Langen of Germany and his crew of Markus Zimmermann, Marco Jakobs and Olaf Hampel in their Germany 2 sled. The silver went to Switzerland 1, piloted by Marcel Rohner. There was another dead heat, this time for a bronze medal, between Sean Olsson's Britain 1 and Bruno Mingeon's France 1.
Lueders and Lori don't agree on much and so it was again yesterday. Lueders said he thinks the gold will attract some new athletes to bobsled.
Lori predicted the sport is in for "a struggle in the near future," with money as the biggest question mark.
As far as the gold medal goes, "I don't know how much that helps," Lori said. "I can't make a call on that."
It won't be his concern. He's off to graduate school and a cosmetics business. He also hopes to give business management seminars, which might seem ironic to those who have followed the bobsled infighting.
While Lori stood in the falling snow, the French huddled before a TV monitor in the weighing house, watching each of the contenders who might bump them out of their medal position.
When it was clear they had captured the bronze they started a wild celebration. Lori turned from his questioners and looked back on the scene. It was a feeling always saved for someone else at the Olympics.
The emotion he walked off the mountain with was quite different.