CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 24, 2002 Giulio Zardo on fast track to success



Canada’s Giulio Zardo and Pierre Lueders (at right) explode onto the track during the third run of the two-man bobsled at Utah Olympic Park on Feb. 17, 2002, during the Winter Olympics.

Photo courtesy of the Zardo family

by John Austen

Giulio Zardo is becoming quite the celebrity at Concordia and in his Montreal neighbourhood. The 22-year-old leisure sciences student is often recognized and congratulated for his success as a world class bobsledder.

And why not? After all, the Canadian team of Zardo and pilot Pierre Lueders finished second in the World Cup standings, the first time Lueders, a former Olympic champion, had reached the World Cup podium since 1996. The pair also finished fifth at the Salt Lake City Olympics, just a few hundredths of a second out of second spot.

Pretty impressive results since just two years ago Zardo, an ex football player, had barely even heard of the sport.

“Well, I’d seen Cool Runnings (the movie) like everyone else,” he laughed, “but my life was basically playing football and training. I was hoping for a U.S. scholarship. Then things kinda changed.”

It was in August of 2001 when Canadian bobsled pilot Yannick Morin walked into Pro-Gym in east end Montreal and asked the owner if he knew of anyone who was both strong and fast, and might want to try something a little different.

All fingers pointed to Zardo, a young Concordia student who “lived at the gym.”

The “something different” was a chance to become a member of Canada’s National Bobsled team. Zardo decided to give it a shot, and seven months later came within a hair of winning an Olympic medal in Utah.

“The whole experience is amazing — I wouldn’t do anything different at all,” he said. ‘The biggest adjustment for me was the mental preparation needed to succeed. Football teaches you the team aspect of it all and some of the mental toughness but nothing quite prepares you for the world stage.”

As a brakeman, Zardo is responsible for giving the sled an explosive, fast and powerful start. Then it’s up to Lueders to guide the sled down the track at speeds of more than 130 kilometres per hour.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of exploding at the start and then going down the track at this level,” Zardo said. “It’s such a rush.”

The six-foot-one, 238-pound Zardo trains four days a week in the gym and will soon get back to his running regime. He can press more than 450 pounds and can squat 680 pounds.
He consumes more than 3,000 calories a day, with his high-protein diet consisting of lots of tuna and oatmeal.

He returns to classes at Concordia this summer and credits Dr. Randy Swedburg of the Leisure Sciences Department for being so patient with him.

Zardo says there are many who have contributed to his success, including his family, strength coach Eric Chevrier and, of course, Lueders.

“We still have a lot of work to do because we both want to be number one next year,” Zardo said.

“Finishing second at the Worlds will only make us work harder for next year.”

The pair are also on track to compete and win a medal at the 2006 Olympics. Don’t bet against them.