HISTORY OF THE SPORT

A History of Men's Bobsleigh
Montrealers may have pointed toboggans downhill on the famous Tuque Bleue slide in the 1870s, but it was the Swiss who later attached a steering mechanism to the toboggan and gave birth to the sport of Bobsleigh.

In 1897 the world's first Bobsleigh club was founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland. By 1914 more than 100 natural-ice courses of varying degrees of sophistication could be found at winter resorts throughout alpine Europe.

Although Bobsleigh was one of the original sports at the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924, it wasn't until the late 1950's that Canadian bobsledders began competing internationally.  At the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria, a Canadian team led by Vic Emery won the gold medal in the four-man event in what one Canadian coach of that era called "the biggest upset in Olympic Bobsleigh history."
         
Through the seventies and early eighties the sport struggled to stay alive in Canada, but a small group comprised largely of former athletes found ways to maintain a Canadian presence in international competition on a shoestring budget.

The turning point for the sport in Canada came when Calgary won its bid to host the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. New funding and a state-of-the art, $11 million dollar Bobsleigh track built for the Games breathed new life into the struggling Canadian team.
         
With a home track to train and compete on for the first time, Canadian bobsledders began their steady ascent in international rankings.  At the Calgary Olympic Games, Canadian crews placed between 10th and 15th in both the two-man and four-man events. A year later, after recruiting former Swiss world champion Hans Hiltebrand as a coach, Chris Lori led his four-man crew to Canada's first overall World Cup title while teammate Greg Haydenluck was runner-up in the two-man standings.

More World Cup success followed as the Canadian team began to challenge Bobsleigh powers such as Switzerland and Germany. At the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, Lori came within a fraction of a second of a bronze medal in the four-man event to post the team's best result (4th) at the Games since Emery's victory more than 28 years earlier.

The following year Canadian rookie driver Pierre Lueders burst on the scene, winning the two-man gold medal at the first World Cup race of the 1992-93 season. After winning his first overall World Cup two-man title in 1993-94, Lueders took the Canadian program to new heights, becoming the first driver in World Cup history to win all three overall titles — two-man, four-man and combined — in a single season. Lueders capped his storybook season by winning the two-man silver medal at the 1995 World Championships.

In 1995-96 the Canadian team had its best-ever overall World Cup performance. With Lueders and Lori placing second and third respectively in overall driver standings, the team finished second overall in Nation's Cup standings. At the 1996 World Championships Lueders teamed up with Dave MacEachern to win his second consecutive two-man silver medal.

The powerful Lueders team continued to astound the world with capturing gold in the two-man competition at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
 
Lueders has become the most successful Bobsleigh athlete in the sport’s history. He has won over 90 World Cup medals and many World Championship medals. He has also won two Olympic medals: gold in 1998 and silver with Lascelles Brown in the two-man event at the 2006 Olympic Games.

Pierre continues to work towards his dream of winning 2 Olympic medals in 2010.
         
Along with Lueders are a new wave of young World Cup bobsleigh drivers that include Lyndon Rush, Serge Despres and Trevor Irwin.

A History of Women's Bobsleigh
The opening of the Canada Olympic Park track in Calgary in 1986 was an important milestone in the development of programs in women's Bobsleigh. Sue Calvert and Sigi Feuser were among the first women to compete in national championships against the men. They acquired new skills and blazed a trail for other women to follow.
 
In October of 1999 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that women's Bobsleigh would be an official medal sport on the program of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The announcement capped a decade-long dream for female Bobsleigh athletes.

In February 2002, fifteen teams ultimately took part in the inaugural Olympic race. Canada was represented by the team of Christina Smith and Paula McKenzie, who finished 9th.

The 2006 Olympic Games in Torino established Canada as one of the strongest players in this discipline. With the fastest start of the race, Helen Upperton and Heather Moyse narrowly missed a bronze medal at the Olympics - finishing 4th.

Canada has the best team in the world with Helen Upperton as the lead. There are several high quality athletes right behind her. Canada plans to have more than one member of our women’s team on the podium in 2010.
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