Bobsleigh and Skeleton Athletes Celebrate Canada Day by Welcoming New Golden Coaching Staff
July 1, 2010
CALGARY—National pride continues to ride high on the heels of the 2010 Winter Games for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton as the organization announced a new, high-powered coaching staff on Canada Day that includes two of the country’s most prominent gold medal-winning Olympians.
Duff Gibson, who became the first Canadian athlete to win Olympic gold in skeleton in 2006, will take over the reins as head coach of Canada’s National Skeleton Program, while two-time Olympic medallist and legendary bobsleigh pilot Pierre Lueders made his retirement as an athlete official by launching the next chapter of his storied career in the sport as the pilot coach for both of Canada’s Europa Cup and World Cup squads. Tom De-La-Hunty has been recruited from Britain into the role of head bobsleigh coach for the World Cup team.
“Duff and Pierre are two of the most successful athletes in the history of their respective sports, and there is no doubt their extensive experience and knowledge of what it takes to hit the start line and win against the world’s best will help ensure Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton athletes keep our country among the strongest nations in these two sports,” said Don Wilson, chief executive officer, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, whose organization won four medals including two gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
A two-time Olympian, Gibson competed from 1999 to 2006 when he retired after standing on top of the Olympic podium. At 39, he became the oldest individual gold-medallist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games. Gibson also racked up two world championship medals, a gold and bronze, and numerous World Cup podium finishes during his illustrious career. After parking his sled, he spent the last two seasons coaching Canada’s highly-successful Intercontinental Cup and development-level athletes.
Gibson will reconnect on the coaching staff with former teammate, Kelly Forbes, who will return in his role as starts and strength coach for the national program. Forbes helped prepare Jon Montgomery for his golden trip to the Olympic podium and Mellisa Hollingsworth to the Overall World Cup title in 2010. Keith Loach, who also retired following the 2010 season, will round out the skeleton coaching staff as the national development coordinator.
“This team of coaches has all achieved success at the international level while developing through the Canadian system as athletes and will now look to do the same as coaches,” said Wilson. “They garner tremendous respect, are proven performers, and I am confident will deliver a high level of instruction and motivation that will ensure our athletes are fully prepared to win against the world’s best.”
Canada’s top bobsleigh athletes will also have access to one of the top coaching staffs in the world as they begin their new track to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Tom De-La-Hunty, who has coached and competed at eight Olympic Games for Britain and most recently the Dutch team in 2010, will lead the high-performance technical program as head coach of the World Cup Team. De-La-Hunty will lead the performance analysis and expand the current bobsleigh knowledge base to ensure Canadian bobsleigh athletes maintain their position as podium performers.
De-La-Hunty will have arguably one of the most successful athletes in the history of the sport in Lueders at his side to help to guide the nation’s best pilots to the podium. A five-time Olympian, Lueders racked up 88 World cup medals including 28 victories in the two-man event, eight World Championship medals along with his two Olympic medals during his illustrious career. The 20-year veteran also had six Overall World Cup titles in the two-man, one Overall World Cup title in the four-man, and four Combined Overall World Cup titles
before retiring this spring.
In his new role, Lueders will lead the driver development program while working with the next generation of Canadian Olympians on the Europa Cup Team for the first half of the season before joining the World Cup tour to work more extensively with Canada’s top pilots leading into the World Championships in Konigssee, Germany.
“This is a significant advantage for us to have the best pilot in the world not only working with our top athletes, but also helping to develop the skills of young drivers as they embark on their Olympic dream,” said Wilson, who added that Lueders leaves the sport as an athlete having helped mentor many Canadian pilots into podium performers. “Pierre raised the bar throughout his career, and allowed Canadian bobsleigh athletes to believe they too can be Olympic champions. I truly believe Pierre’s innovative driver development initiatives will continue to raise the overall driving skill level of the Canadian bobsleigh program.”
Two other Canadian bobsleigh athletes have joined the national team coaching staff since retiring this spring. Rob Gray, who was a member of Lyndon Rush’s four-man crew over the last two seasons, will take over as the starts and strength coach for the World Cup athletes. Amanda Stepenko, who piloted the Canada 3 sled on the World Cup last year, will take on the position of development coordinator and head coach of the America’s Cup and Europa Cup teams.
While Canada’s athletes have already began their summer training regime in Calgary, the journey to 2014 officially kicks off at the Whistler Sliding Centre, November 22-28, with the opening World Cup race of the season.
For more information on Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, please visit us at www.bobsleigh.ca on the Internet.