MOSCOW, November 13 (R-Sport) - Russia's women's bobsled team may need some new faces because the current athletes cannot sprint fast enough, the team's Olympic gold medal-winning coach Pierre Lueders told R-Sport on Tuesday.
Lueders took over as coach this season with a mission to make Russia's bobsled crews competitive at the country's first Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
The opening round of the World Cup under his leadership ended in disappointment for the women's two-person crews, with a best finish of 12th in Lake Placid.
"What's putting our girls off is the starting sprint," Lueders said.
"In the time that's left before the Olympics in Sochi, we need to find more candidates for the sprinting role."
If top-class sprinters can be found, then the Russian women are capable of mounting a challenge for their first Olympic medal, Lueders suggested.
"Our pilots' driving skills compare to the results of the top six, and maybe even the top three, but when you're losing 0.3 seconds over the course of two runs, then it's hard to even make the top 10," he said.
Lueders won gold for Canada in the two-man at Nagano 1998 and silver in the same event in Salt Lake City two years later, and has eight world championship medals in the two- and four-man disciplines.
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