Pierre Lueders, 33, of Edmonton, is the most decorated slider in Canadian history. Lueders won Olympic gold in the two-man event at Nagano in 1998.
He will compete at the Salt Lake City Olympics with a new sled and partner. Brakeman Dave MacEachern, with whom Lueders won gold at the 1998 Nagano Games, has left to pursue a driving career of his own. A World Cup victory Jan. 19 in Cortina, Italy, erased many doubts, including his own, that the Edmonton native could defend his Olympic title in the men's two-man bobsled event.
"For me, I needed my own confirmation knowing that I could still win a race - win a World Cup medal before the Olympics," Lueders told Canadian Press. "Going into the Olympics without having won anything and hoping to win is pretty naive, I think."
He followed up a week later with a bronze-medal finish in France to finish second overall in the World Cup standings. His confidence is back after a long journey.
A few other things have changed since the 1998 Games. Ivo Ferriani replaced Hans Hiltebrand as coach of the Canadian bobsleigh team prior to the 1999-2000 season. Perhaps more significantly, Lueders married his wife Sandra in August of 1998. They couple met at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, where Lueders was training and Sandra was working.
Lueders, who has won 35 World Cup medals in his career, grew up competing in track and field as a decathlete. He switched to bobsleigh in 1989 after visiting a sports-writer cousin in Germany.