Posts Tagged ‘Whistler’

Don’t Be a Luger, Try Skeleton!

February 22, 2011

Last February almost to the day I had the good fortune to watch Olympic Bobsleigh live at the Whistler Sliding Center. This past Saturday my friend Sara and I headed up to Whistler to try out the newly opened to the public Skeleton sport experience for ourselves.

98.5 km/h

Upon arriving to the guest services we were greeted, signed in and weighed. Being a few minutes early we were encouraged to have a wander around the room where we could look at the equipment worn by our Olympic counterparts and or purchase a keepsake cow bell. They also had the the Olympic torch on hand which I promptly picked up and did the pretend it’s a giant joint thing. Sara rolled her eyes.

At 2:30 we were called to have a seat at the back of the room. On each of our seats was a clipboard and a waiver, I had a quick glance of said waiver which in a nutshell explained that if I died performing this experience Whistler would not be shelling out any cash or responsibility. Awesome!

A pleasant Brit stepped up and introduced himself as Graham, he would be our trainer and guide for the duration. Graham welcomed all 20 of us, 18 men and 2 women. Sara quickly pointed out the 8 or so fit 70 year old men sitting around us and how we might actually be in a hidden camera Cialis commercial. Graham began a two hour barely visible slide presentation explaining the history, the technical aspects and the dangers of this sport we were about to partake in. As Graham spoke the nervous tension in the room grew palpable. Deep breath sighs and fidgeting in seats ensued and culminated with Graham showing us a bruise the size of an arm on the back of his arm from a run he took just days before. Awesome!

Once everyone had an opportunity to lay on a sleigh and try on a helmet Graham gave one last impassioned speech on how if anyone had changed their minds that they should not feel bad and to discreetly come over and admit defeat. As he finished, Sara leaned over and informed me that she had the Band of Horses song The Funeral playing over and over in her mind during the entire presentation! Awesome!

“Right then! Grahams voice interrupted, let’s do this!” He then proceeded to read the order in which we would be sliding. Old fitter than me 70 year old guy will be first, followed by old fitter than me 70 year old guy #2. On and on he went down the list, “and finally the 19th slider will be Sara, and bringing up the rear, our last slider will be Jason”. Awesome!

Off we went up the hill to the starting gate where we could watch each nervous participant lay down on the sled and be ceremoniously counted down and pushed off into an unknown fate.

While watching the first 10 participants shove off from the doorway of the shipping container located next to the track an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around to discover he had squeezed most of his body into an actual proper Olympic style sliding suit. A proper one with spider web designs on the elbows and knees. A slightly too small bright red sliding suit! “Could you give me a hand pulling this suit up over my shoulders?”, “ahhh sure I said.” His name was called, he lay down at the gate, helmet deaf to the Cialis boys snickers and snide comments. 30.05 seconds later a voice came over the loud speaker, “and that was Andrew with the fastest ever tourist run at 100.9 km/h”. Awesome!

Sara at 96.1 km/h

Finally it was Sara’s turn, I wished her good luck and waited for the loud speaker voice to confirm she had made it to the bottom in one piece. “That was Sara with a 96.1 km/h run the voice said”. Nervously I lay down on the sleigh, I could feel my heartbeat in my eyes. Graham shoved me off and for the next 30.15 seconds (second fastest of the day) I watched the ice whiz by three inches from my nose. It is a strange sensation, you have no idea where you are on the track at any given second, you can see approximately three feet (of ice) in front of you and nothing to your sides. You are a sack of potatoes on a sleigh, your helmet bumps and scrapes along the ice intermittently and you feel a significant G-force on your body at the last turn. You know it’s almost over as you ping-pong (popcorn as Sara calls it) off the walls near the end of the track. It is exhilarating and worth the price of admission!

No I'm not wearing a diaper though I wouldn't judge anyone who did.

Dolphin out of water pose.

I apologize for the lack of photos in this post, thus all the long winded explanations. You are strongly encouraged not to bring camera and or video gear as the sliding centre has a hired photographer that you can each pay $45 for four digital images.

The cost to slide is $146 per person.



February 22, 2010

My friend Kristina invited me to join her and her family in Whistler this past weekend. They were all going to the two man bobsleigh event and I was going to walk around the village and make a few images. After lunch Kristina’s father Barry informed me that I would be taking his ticket and attending the event with the girls!.

Needless to say, I’ve never photographed a bobsleder (sleigher?). Capturing an object moving at 140/kmh in a split second is a challenge, It took me a little practice to dial in my camera.

We saw a number of crashes, the sound of a bobsleigh upside down at 140/kmh is like nothing you’ve ever heard. Amazing how quickly thousands of screaming fans become instantly quiet. Luckily no one was seriously injured, one of the British competitors did however leave some of his back on the track.

Thanks Barry and Karen once again for your generous hospitality, it was an experience of a lifetime.

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