On the Fast Track
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
There are few things as exciting as a bobsleigh ride. Likewise, few things leave such an impression—for me, it was hand indentations from holding on for dear life.
There’s just something about the world whizzing by at 130 kph, something about entrusting a stranger to pilot you down an icy wormhole, something about looking fear in the face and giving it the bird.
Where I was lucky enough to get this bobsleigh ride: Whistler Sliding Center (WSC), a jewel shining in Olympic history.
It was the host venue for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games for bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competitions. It now serves as a legacy for locals, high performance athletes and tourists looking for a taste of Olympic glory and a hit of adrenalin.
“It was Bobsleigh Canada that saw the potential for Whistler as a tourist attraction,” said Roger Soane, President and CEO of Whistler Sport Legacies, the non-profit that runs WSC. This foresight was bang on.
“It’s turned out to be a great attraction for Whistler,” said Soane. “We do very well with our tourist rides.”
And it’s no wonder. It’s the trip of a lifetime and costs $169, which is a bargain for something you’ll tell your grandkids about.
There are only 15 tracks like it in the world and Whistler’s is the fastest. This wasn’t a fact I celebrated while putting on my helmet, but it’s a badge of honor now.
The vertical drop is huge: a whopping 152 meters (498 feet) from the top. We started just above corner 7, where the women pushed off for the Olympics. It’s pencils out to a 30-story descent to the finish line.
Beyond attracting tourists with rides in bobsleigh (winter and summer) and skeleton (winter), each year, WSC also hosts many international and provincial events. These marquee competitions draw the best athletes from around the world and loads of spectators with flags and cowbells.
WSC is also working hard to cultivate the development of sport in Whistler and get people sliding. “Last year, we purchased some training sleds,” Soane said, “and we’ve done a couple training schools for driving.”
I guess that means it’s time to buy my lycra body suit!
(Video below of Gina zipping down track. Blink and you'll nearly miss it!)
(This story was originally published in the Vancouver Sun by Gina Daggett, who is also a freelance writer.)