Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 6 p.m., Maurice Young Millennium Place
Whistler Sliding Centre
The Whistler Sliding Centre takes the thrill of sliding down a hill on a sled to a whole new level. It's been called an elevator shaft with ice and has captured the imagination of visitors and residents alike.
The Whistler Sliding Centre was host venue for the Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton events during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The venue also serves as a legacy for the enjoyment of Whistler residents, visitors and high performance athletes.
Located on the side of Blackcomb mountain just minutes away from the resort village of Whistler, the Whistler sliding Center complements the other adventure-oriented activities the area offers. Post-Games, the facility operates under the Whistler Sport Legacies organization as a centre for high-performance development, youth and recreational club programs, as well as offers opportunities for tourists looking to re-visit a moment or two from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
In many respects, sliding sports are the purest of winter sports. Sliding down a hill on a sled represents the sheer joy of speed, taken to the extreme. Steep, challenging and fast: The Whistler Sliding Centre is not for the faint of heart — this track is faster than any other in the world, reflecting the terrain and environment of its location.
From the moment an athlete first moves down the track, they feel the power of the course. It starts fast and gets faster, and harder. One curve leads straight into the next. There are no simple lines or places to catch their breath as the track throws one challenge after another at the slider.
As one of only two sliding tracks in Canada, the Whistler Sliding Centre track will help to elevate the Canadian high-performance sport development program along with complementing the 1988 Winter Games sliding track in Calgary, Alberta.
When the first sled flew down the track, athletes and coaches knew they had something special. The 1,450-metre track is designed to be a unique world-class venue with a 175-metre vertical drop and 16 concrete corners. Top speeds average 135 km/hr, making this track one of the most challenging and fast in the world.
Construction of the Whistler Sliding Centre took place between June 2005 and December 2007. It wasn't as simple as pouring water on concrete and praying for a freeze -- the track was built with precision.
During its construction the sliding centre used 350 metres of concrete, 100 kilometres of ammonia refrigeration steel piping, 700 lights, 600 awnings and 12,000 metres of steel conduit.
The venue was also built with sustainability in mind. The track location is carved out of the forest and is surrounded by trees, which allowed minimum tree removal during construction while the trees provide shading to the track. Energy efficiency initiatives were also built to minimize energy use by the refrigeration plant. These initiatives include:
- An ammonia refrigeration system because ammonia is one of the most energy-efficient refrigerants - Track shading and weather protection system
- Track painted white to minimize heat absorption
- The capture and reuse of waste heat from refrigeration plant
The result is a track made of six-inch concrete with a required precision of within three milimetres.
The first run took place on December 19, 2007 with Canadian bobsledder Pierre Lueders and his brakeman Justin Kripps. At the time, Lueders called the first run a privilege.
"What a rush - and what a privilege to be the first ones down the newest Canadian sliding track," said Lueders. "I've driven every track in the world and each one has its own personality. The Whistler track was challenging and will unquestionably test the skills of the world's best sliding athletes."