Pierre Lueders joining Russian bobsleigh team as head coach

Just over a week after leaving his post as development coach with Canada's national boblseigh team, Pierre Lueders, a two-time Olympic medallist and five-time Olympian, announced Monday he will be joining the Russian squad as head coach.
Pierre Lueders is a five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medallist. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

It didn't take long for Canada's most decorated slider to find a new job.

Just over a week after leaving his post as development coach with Canada's national boblseigh team, Pierre Lueders, a two-time Olympic medallist and five-time Olympian, announced Monday he will be joining the Russian squad as head coach.

First reported by CBC Edmonton's Mark Connolly, Lueders later confirmed the career move to CBCSports.ca.

"[The Russian team varies] in range from athletic talent from Olympic bronze medallists, to beginners," Lueders said in a phone interview. "So there’s a great range of athletes and I’m just overjoyed to be joining them and helping them achieve their goals and hopefully I can lead them with some of my experiences and some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years."

The Edmonton native's experience entails an impressive career resume, including over 100 international medals highlighted by piloting an Olympic gold in 1998 (Nagano, Japan), and a silver in the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy.

He said one of the biggest factors in making his decision was the fact he could be a part of the team while it competes on its home soil in the upcoming 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, something he feels will be a unique experience.

"It’s a very exciting opportunity," he said, "And I look forward to joining a new team and helping them prepare for the 2014 Olympic Games — their home Olympics — in Sochi, Russia."

Feeling comfortable with the timing of his transition, Lueders knows there will be a big adjustment period ahead but looks forward to the challenge.

"Well it’s two years out from the [2010] Olympics so certainly you don’t want to make a career move as a coach or wind up upsetting the team that you’re with obviously," he said. "There’s still enough time for the Canadian team to make some transitions, as they will, and for my new team as well to transition into that team.

"It takes time when coaches are brought in, there’s new philosophies and such, so it takes a little bit of time, it’ll be a completely different culture and language and some growing pains for sure. I think this was a great time to do it."

Lueders also feels he brings intangible qualities to his newest role such as mental toughness and leadership abilities — not just from being on the sidelines as a coach, but from going through the highs and lows himself.

"...It’s also that I’ve been to five Olympics, I know what it takes to win there," he said. "I also know how fickle it can be, and how quickly you can lose a medal within fractions of a hundredth [of a second]. That in itself, and being able to take athletes from the bob-school level where they learn to drive all the way to the World Cup in two years.

"But moreso the experience I’ve gained over 20 years of competing and also I have the unique perspective. I’ve been there, I’ve won there, I know what that’s like. I’ve also been to the Olympics and been very disappointed and I know how awful that can be and how motivating that can be and also how difficult it can be to deal with. So I’m there to provide my experience from the positive all the way to the negative and make the team stronger."

The 41-year-old retired from competition after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, ending his 22-year run in the sport. He will be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 18.