Whistler Sliding Centre is looking back on 25 successful sliding weeks in the 2014/2015 season
Whistler, BC: While the ice in the track is slowly melting, the Whistler Sliding Centre is celebrating a successful season. With just over 17,000 descents down the fastest sliding track in the world, the venue’s crew was busier than ever for eight to 13 hours daily, seven days a week and 25 weeks of operation between October 2014 and April 2015.
Just under 6,000 public sliders ticked off two of Whistler’s most popular activities from their bucket lists, the “Thunder on Ice” bobsleigh and “Lightning on Ice” skeleton sport experiences. Rushing down in a bobsleigh with three passengers and a professional pilot and reaching speeds of 125 km/h, or going headfirst down the track on a skeleton sled with top speeds of 100 km/h, the public participants got a thrilling impression of what sliding athletes experience in their sports. Also a number of corporate groups booked the track for clients and staff incentives. Roger Soane, President and CEO of Whistler Sport Legacies, commented: “It is great to see the people exit our track with a big smile. The revenue from the public programs goes directly towards growing our sport initiatives, so we are happy to finish off the season with a new record for public slides.” A new record was also set for the ‘oldest’ participants in a sled in the history of the public sliding program, when a trio of friends aged 79, 79 and 84 clocked in 125.6 km/h with their pilot this February. A few TV celebrities also visited the Sliding Centre last season: Rick Mercer and Jason Priestley self-piloted ‘plank sleds’ down the track, special bobsleighs used by the BC Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association to train future pilots how to drive.
When the track was closed for the public, the athletes took over. As many as 18 sliding competitions from regional to World Cup level were held in the 2014/2015 season. Many international athletes frequented the venue for training, such as luge hopefuls from leading nations like Germany, Austria and Russia, skeleton athletes from Great Britain, Australia and the USA and bobsleigh teams from Russia, South Korea, Brazil and even Jamaica. Also locally, the three sliding sports attracted many athletes and even school and community groups. Through the BC Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association and BC Luge, competitive and recreational athletes between 7 and 60 years of age trained regularly on the track with almost 300 hours of ice time between October and April.
Some of the local athletes even proved on the world stage that Whistler is an excellent training venue, with lugers Matt Riddle, Reid Watts and Adam Shippit finishing first overall in the Junior World Cup for their respective categories and with skeleton talent Jane Channell placing fourth in the World Championships in Germany.
Though the winter season is just over, the Whistler Sliding Centre is getting ready for the next bobsleigh season, which will start in two months, with the summer bobsleigh attraction “Rolling Thunder” on wheels. From June 27 to September 6, 2015, teams of four together with a trained pilot can race down the track in a bobsleigh equipped with wheels, reaching speeds of up to 80 km/hr. Booking is already possible online or by phone at 604-964-0040.