WHISTLER, B.C. — Edmonton Eskimos running back Jesse Lumsden became a national two-man bobsleigh champion with pilot Pierre Lueders on Saturday at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Lueders, with Lumsden on the brakes, clocked a two-run combined time of one minute, 44.73 seconds to finish in first place.
The six-foot-two, 226-pound football star has been training this week with the Canadian bobsleigh team. His times have been on par with some of the team's veterans. Lumsden signed last month with the Eskimos after playing four CFL seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"When I volunteered to give bobsleigh a try, I never figured I would end up at this point. I think any athlete would take full advantage of the opportunity to possibly represent his or her country at the Olympics," Lumsden said.
Lumsden said bobsleigh and football is actually a good mix because bobsleigh training is helping him prepare for the CFL season.
"I jumped on the opportunity to do this because my coaches and I came to the conclusion that bobsleigh is great cross training for football," Lumsden said. "Pushing a 400-pound sled as hard as I can and being a running back go hand in hand."
The Eskimos agreed with Lumsden's logic and he said coaches have allowed him to compete in the fast-paced sport.
Lueders has crossed paths with the Eskimos before. In 2003 he won the two-man title at the Bobsleigh World Championships with Giulo Zardo. Zardo quit the bobsleigh team in 2005 to sign a contract with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.
"It was the first race for Jesse and I am sliding with some new guys in this race as a way to add more depth to our team," Lueders said.
Lumsden wasn't the only football player on the track. Former University of Saskatchewan football player Lyndon Rush and Chris LeBihan finished in second place, 0.03 second behind the winners. Jonathon Edwards and Brad Reinsch of Alberta placed third 1:46.61.
With the 2010 Games around the corner, Lueders is optimistic about the depth of the Canadian team.
"I am extremely optimistic in some regards but it seems like every time we come back to Whistler, we have to work on something different," Lueders said. "We will keep working over the summer and see what we can do to improve."
Earlier in the day, Kallie Humphries of Calgary and brakeman Heather Moyse of P.E.I. captured the national title, overcoming Suzanne Muldoon and Sabrina Notarangelo. Humphries finished in 1:48.01.
Christina Smith and Heather Peterson placed third in 1:54.41. Humphries earned silver at a World Cup at the 2010 Olympic venue earlier in the season.
"We have a really strong Canadian team right now and I think we will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010. The more runs we get down this track, the better we can become," said Moyse.
Amanda Stepenko and brakeman Shelly-Ann Brown clocked the fastest time among the women but were disqualified for competing in an overweight sled. The maximum weight of the sled and team cannot exceed 170 kilos.
The Bobsleigh Nationals wraps up at Whistler Sliding Centre on Sunday with the men's four-man race.