Venue Preview: Whistler Sliding Centre

October 16, 2009

Name: Whistler Sliding Centre
Sports: Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton
Sessions: BS003 (Women’s Runs 1 & 2)
Days: Day 12
Location: 4910 Glacier Lane, Whistler, BC
Capacity: 12,000
Opened: 2007
Costs: $105 million CAD

On Day 12, Pam and I will be leaving the cozy confines of greater Vancouver and head up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler. One of the top skiing resorts in the world, Whistler is home to all of the ‘Alpine’ and ‘Sliding’ sports for the games. Having never been to Whistler, or any ‘Resort Town’ before really, I’m looking forward to the chance to get up there.

While in Whistler, we will be seeing one event: the Women’s Bobsled – Runs 1 & 2. This will give us a chance to check out the Whistler Sliding Centre, and the insanity that is someone rocketing down the track. Widely considered to be the fastest track in the world, sliders can reach speeds over 150 km/h at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Crazy, crazy, crazy stuff. For the Bobsled event, we have ‘Level B’ tickets, which function basically as general admission to the grounds. From there, you just find a patch of asphalt that looks good, and observe. The seating chart below gives an overview of the track; the general admission areas are in blue.

Having been to the Salt Lake track, I actually think that I prefer the idea of being in the general admission section, as it gives you a chance to be right on top of the track. Assuming a similar layout to SLC, you can stand right up against the railing, which is probably less than 6 feet from the surface of the track. If you had good enough aim, you could probably reach out and touch people going down the track.

The track itself is nestled up against the base of Blackcomb mountain, just outside of Whistler Village. The course drops a total of 152 m over its 1450 m length, which my calculator tells me is an average grade of about -10.48%. Its 16 curves generally are not named yet, with the notable exception of Turn 7: Lueders Loop. During the track testing phase, Pierre Lueders managed to flip his sled in Turn 7, earning him the subject notoriety. Accoridng to the reports I’ve read, Whistler’s track is supposedly one of the toughest in the world. The following video provides a very cool run down the track.

The Whistler Sliding Centre should hopefully see Canada win at least a couple of medals. As the home country, Canadian sliders will have had significantly more experience on the track versus international competitors, hopefully giving us a significant home-field advantage. On the Skeleton front, Canada has legitimate medal contenders on both the Men’s and Women’s sides. Although the primary focus will be on the persons of Jeff Pain and Mellisa Hollingsworth, having the home-track advantage should also help secondary medal threats like John Montgomery and Michelle Kelly. Mulitiple medals on either side are a possibility.

We may also be able to take home medals in bobsled, where the aforementioned Pierre Lueders is a solid threat in the Two-Man, and a secondary threat in the Four-Man. On the women’s side, Helen Upperton is favoured to bring home a medal, colour to be determined. In luge, it would be a surprise for Canada to register a medal.

We’re still not 100% on what our schedule is going to be like in terms of arrival/departure times from the Whistler area. As I’ve never been to Whistler, I’m really hoping to be able to not only see the Bobsled on Day 12, but also hit the slopes. I think we’ll be able to fit that in either during the morning on Day 12, prior to the bobsled start at 5:00 PM, or by staying overnight in Whistler, and getting on the slopes on Day 13, which we have open right now. Either way, I think it’d be a shame to be in one of the top resorts in the world, and at not get in at least SOME ‘boarding.

Anyways, I’ll leave you with a bit of a slideshow, as yoinked from Flicker and Google Images:


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This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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