WITH its need for speed and athleticism, bobsleigh attracts world-class athletes who have enjoyed success in other sports.
Now it has attracted Jesse Lumsden, a running back with the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos, and it might take him to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
It's the only Olympic sport where no experience is necessary, and he's competed internationally in it only once so far.
Lumsden is slated to be the brakeman for two-time Olympic medallist Pierre Lueders of Edmonton at the Dec. 12 World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany. The duo made their international debut last week, winning a European Cup race at Koenigssee, Germany.
"It's an extremely big opportunity for me to be representing my country," Lumsden said. "It's something I never thought I'd be able to do.
"To be able to race and push for Pierre is an honour. I'm really excited to see where we go with this."
On the surface, it might seem unfair to the members of the Canadian team who have been pushing the sleigh for years on the international circuit.
In reality, it's the way bobsleigh athletes come to be. They aren't born as much as they are created.
"Athletes can be recruited from any sport," Lueders said. "It's a great opportunity to have a world-class athlete on our team. He certainly makes our team a whole lot stronger."
Lumsden has found the transition from the gridiron to the sled a smooth one.
"When you look at what I've done over the past 15 years in terms of training and lifting and stretching for football, it completely coincides with pushing a bobsled," Lumsden said.
At Koenigssee, Lueders and Lumsden posted the fastest starts -- an average of 4.86 seconds per run -- and that's what it's all about in bobsleigh.
Once they've loaded into the sled, the race is in the pilot's hands. The others in the bobsleigh are little more than human ballast.
"You have about five seconds of work, but it's so technical," Lumsden said. "It comes down to hundredths of a second. I've never dealt with anything like that.
Lumsden will need to work quickly to secure a spot on the team. Olympic rosters must be submitted by Jan. 17.
"He has a real chance of being an Olympian," Canadian coach Tuffy Latour said.
-- Canwest News Service