Brown is back to challenge Lumsden at bobsleigh camp
CALGARY — The return of Lascelles Brown to Canada’s bobsleigh team has deepened competition among brakemen and created a rivalry with Jesse Lumsden.
The two big men went head to head during an indoor push-start competition at Calgary’s Ice House on Wednesday, taking turns lowering the Ice House record. Canada’s number one pilot Lyndon Rush seemed to enjoy every minute of the contest.
“It’s exciting times, it’s good, but I wouldn’t say I’m rubbing my hands together with glee,” Rush said. “I really couldn’t tell you right now who is going to be pushing me in the big races in the two-man. Either way, it’s a double-win.”
Brown won an Olympic silver medal with Pierre Lueders in 2006, followed by a bronze with Rush’s four-man team in 2010. The 38-year-old slid for Monaco the last two seasons, but is back wearing Canadian colours again.
“The plan was to come back from the beginning,” Brown said. “Only Lyndon Rush knew because I told him. I’m back now, feeling happy. This is where I belong.”
It’s been a few years since Lumsden, 30, was this healthy. The former CFL running back and Rush won silver in this year’s world championship. They finished the World Cup season ranked third in two-man even though Rush teased Lumsden for being “skinny and weak”.
Lumsden tore knee ligaments in late 2010 while playing for Calgary Stampeders. After reconstructive surgery, Lumsden was trying to regain his power and race bobsleigh at the same time last winter.
“This is the first off-season I’ve had to train without having surgery in about five years,” Lumsden said. “I took full advantage of it. It was nice to be able to move some weight again and put some weight back on.
“I’m about 230 pounds and I haven’t been this heavy in a long time. It feels good to be able to move at that weight.”
The Edmonton-born athlete also played for the Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats during his CFL career.
Lumsden, who is six foot three, has aspirations to drive on the World Cup circuit. The speed and power that made him such a coveted Canadian running back also makes it difficult for head coach Tom De La Hunty to move Lumsden off the brake.
Brown, who was born in Jamaica, also brought speed and power Wednesday. He narrowly beat Lumsden in pushing from the side of the sled. They’d both set indoor records pushing from the back end of the sled the previous day.
Wednesday’s session felt like a heavyweight bout with members of the men’s and women’s team loudly egging Brown and Lumsden onto faster pushes when they stepped to the start line. The two men bumped fists between passes and hugged at the conclusion of testing.
“Over the years when I was competing for Canada, (this) wasn’t a competition. I didn’t have a Jesse Lumsden,” Brown said. “I focused on the World Cups and the world championships, but now, there’s a Jesse Lumsden and he’s firing it. So I have to come in and fire it up too.”
Said Lumsden: “The last two days have been a battle. We’re pushing each other to be our best. He got me today.”
The Ice House sessions are one tool De La Hunty employs to create winning two-man and four-man teams, as well as women’s two-man sleds. He’ll name his World Cup team in late October following trials in both Calgary and Whistler, B.C.
“We try and find who the fastest guys are and you’ve got to try and marry them together,” De La Hunty said. “You try to blend the best athletes into the ideal team.”
Rush, from Humboldt, Sask., says the indoor push results are less significant in four-man racing. More bodies in the sled create mean more important variables to consider when forming a crew.