Public Fun at the Whistler Sliding Centre
“Participants should use the washroom before the start of the run (due to gravitational pressure on bladder during runs). “
– From the Whistler Sliding Centre handout, “Know Before You Go—Bobsleigh”
I have to admit any sport that carries a “pee your own pants” disclaimer is definitely one I want to check out and that was before learning the four-person Bobsleigh would be hitting speeds of around 125 km/hour and approaching G forces of up to 3. I went for it and learned the following:
- A: it’s really fun and really full-on. You definitely feel the speed.
- B: The Bobsleigh driver is a pro, not just anyone is allowed to pilot those things (unlike Skeleton where you’re on your own.)
- C: No, they won’t let you wear a helmet cam (for safety reasons) so check out this video or better yet, get up to the Sliding Centre and try Bobsleigh or Skeleton for yourself. Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things is a fantastic way to ring in a new year. Just remember to empty that bladder first.
As well, Whistler Insider field correspondent Lisa Lefroy tried out the public Skeleton course and came back with an Olympic-sized smile on her face and the following report…
Whistler’s Sliding Skeletons—What a Scream.
By Lisa Lefroy
The walk up the track takes roughly 15 minutes. That’s 15 minutes to consider what I’ve gotten myself into. Fifteen minutes to go over the coaching I just received: “Just position your body like a sack of potatoes, you’ll be fine.”
A sack of potatoes? I’m about to hurdle headfirst down an track of ice at close to 90km/hour and my athletic visualization starts and ends with a sack of potatoes?… Sweet, I totally got this one.
Whistler Sliding Centre, one of the legacies left by the 2010 Winter Games, is a 1,450 metre long ice track with a 152-metre vertical drop over 16 corners. World Cup Skeleton, Luge and Bobsleigh athletes compete and train regularly but the public program allows Whistler residents and visitors to try sports we may never have otherwise been introduced to. Talk about the ultimate way to get down the mountain, when our office booked a session I jumped at the opportunity…head first!
Arriving at the facility I’m weighed and sized up (for Skeleton you have to be under 220 lbs and shorter than 6-foot 4) then given a detailed overview of the safety measures, body position(sack of potatoes!) and sliding equipment. The sled loosely resembles the cart a mechanic uses to slide under your car but as soon as I lie down it quickly becomes apparent my nose will be only 2 inches from the ice while traveling at highway speeds. Ok, I wasn’t nervous before but suddenly my stomach feels a little funny…
At the launch, we wait. It’s nostalgic at the start, we share memories and stories of the Games but the closer we get to the launch point, the more the nerves start to jangle. Then a voice calls my name over a loudspeaker and I get that official “move over, athlete coming through” kind of mentality. Except I’ve never done this before and all of a sudden the Sliding Centre experts have me positioned on a sled and I’m staring down an icy track. “Hold on tight,” they say. That is a given. “Hold on tight… sack of potatoes… are you ready?” Off I go.
Hurtling down the first straight-away, quickly gaining momentum, it doesn’t take long to feel fast, really fast. Then I hit the first turn and …LIGHT SPEED!!!! I’m really flying, the ice blurry by my face while I scream/laugh at the top of my lungs—the loudest sack of potatoes ever.
After 30.3 seconds of serious rush I cross the finish line, slide up the brake hill and stop. My top speed was 90.3 km/hour (third fastest in my office, just saying!) and as a skier, mountain bike and general adrenaline lover I can safely say Skeleton gets your heart racing faster than anything I have ever done.
The whole experience left me wanting more and with the FIBT Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup set to arrive February 2nd- 4th you can bet I will be there to glean some tips and check the skills and see how the pros do it (probably they scream a lot less.)