Danaka Porter has an Olympic dream.
Formerly a varsity athlete in track and field, the Vancouver
resident is now pursuing that dream as a member of Canada’s national bobsleigh
team, which will have some members training at the Whistler Sliding Centre
starting Jan. 18.
To meet that dream, she’s put two things on hold: an
interdisciplinary studies degree at UBC, as well as a job as an auditor with
PriceWaterhouse Coopers. It’s a big undertaking, but she has no regrets about
training for a sport she only took up last September.
“I was kind of at the point where I don’t want to go back to
school and I don’t want to work right now,” she said. “I was talking to one of
my friends from the University of Alberta, Adam Rosenke, who’s actually on the
World Cup team.
“He said, ‘why don’t you try bobsled!’”
Porter then called the national team coach, did two weeks of
tryouts in which she did a lot of running, jumping and weightlifting, and about
three weeks later found herself on the team.
To make the Olympics, she and approximately five other
teammates want to get in some training time in Whistler. But the resort’s
housing crunch is making that difficult.
All members of the national team have a place to stay for
training, but Porter and some teammates want to be in Whistler right up until
just before the Olympics.
“Just for the training, to get on the course more,” she said.
“It’s like a hometown advantage kind of, it’s just easier when you live there.
“We have to keep coming back to Whistler, there’s so many
training camps here, it’d be nice to just not have to worry about driving out
there from Calgary or flying in from Toronto.”
Searching for a home hasn’t been easy, as many people can
appreciate. Porter and her teammates have checked ads in the papers and on
Craigslist, but thus far they’re turning up dead ends. Some ads have turned out
to be big houses they’d be sharing with a bunch of people they don’t know —
not an ideal situation for Canada’s national bobsleigh team.
“It’s pretty much impossible for us to find housing, for all of
us that tried,” she said. “You call and then you find out it’s in a six-bedroom
house and you’re sharing with a whole bunch of other people, so it was a little
bit frustrating and I’ve kind of given up.
“For the price I’m going to pay, I can get my own place in
Vancouver versus a bedroom in a house with people I have no idea who they are.”
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed was disappointed, but not surprised
that Olympic hopefuls couldn’t find a place to live in town.
“We’ve been saying this for a year now, be very careful about
waiting out and holding out for an expectation that may not arrive,” he said,
addressing landlords within town.
“Maybe look for some ways to contribute to the success of the
Games. This would be one of them. This would be absolutely fantastic if
somebody from the community would be able to help out some of our national
The bobsledders are looking for some kind of a house to live
in, although they’re flexible, according to Porter.
“Just a house, kind of, I guess, or like a cabin, really
anything,” she said.
The ones looking for housing are members of both the men’s and
women’s teams. Currently they’re part of the “development” team that counts
among its ranks some sledders who haven’t yet made the Olympic teams.
But they’re holding on to hope — especially Porter, who’s
encouraged that the Olympic team could have a spot for her position,
“Obviously it’d be a dream come true,” Porter said. “It’s the Olympics in my own, not just home country, but home city, there’s a big driving force there.”