Bobsleds, true 24-karat gold, to finish in style
WHISTLER, B.C.–All medals are created equal at an Olympic Games, at least in theory. But we all have our favourites, those sports and games we consider 24-karat gold, as opposed to 18-karat or 10-karat or whatever that guy on Eglinton Avenue with the crazy TV commercials about buying your gold is willing to take.
This personal list of 24-karat winter Olympic sports includes hockey, Alpine skiing, figure skating and . . . bobsled.
Not knocking anything else, but those are the ones whose medals shine a little brighter in these eyes and having seen Canadian women destroy the opposition to win gold and silver, all eyes turn to Friday’s four-man bobsled, the granddaddy of them all, the one in which Vic Emery and his Canadian upstarts, a couple of them wearing football helmets, won the gold medal in 1964 in probably the greatest upset in the sport’s history.
Pierre Lueders has won Olympic gold and silver and before Kallie Humphries took gold and Hellen Upperton the silver, Emery and Lueders were the extent of Canada’s Olympic podium finishes. Lueders has had troubles keeping teammates over the years, but he’s the face of the sport in Canada and is a strong sentimental choice on his home track.
Lyndon Rush is the younger, less expereinced pilot but has the outstanding starting push of Lascelles Brown on his side.
So there is plenty of rooting interest as they go up against the typically strong Swiss, dreamy Americans (who are 62 years with a gold) and, of course, the great German Andre Lange, who is seeking his third consecutive four-man gold and fifth over-all. He and Kevin Kuske, who looks like an NFL linebacker, only bigger and faster, won the two-man.
Adding intrigue to the competition is the reputation for danger of the Whistler Sliding Centre track – it has been taking a beating for weeks here – and the withdrawal of four teams so far, those from the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Australia, all for reasons to do with crashes and injuries or, in the case of Edwin Van Calker of the Netherlands, because he simply lacked confidence that he could handle the course. It’s the last big event of the Games up here and it looks like a great finale.