By Clare Ogilvie and Jesse Ferreras
Fast, fast, fast.
And that is just the way the Jamaican bobsled team wants the
2010 sliding track to be.
“I really like the speed, it is very exciting,” said Hannukkah
Wallace, the team’s driver, as he walked the track during his first visit to
Whistler this week.
“I have heard that it is really fast so I need to get a lot of
runs on it.”
The team was hoping to get some ice time this week — they
wanted about 15 minutes a day. But it was unlikely, said Craig Lehto, director
of the Whistler Sliding Centre.
“No, there is no plans for that,” he said.
“There are plans for them to have access to the track during
the international training week in January.”
Said team coach Devon Harris: “We would rather stay here, but
if we can’t get the ice time then Calgary will be the place to go.”
The $106 million track already has a reputation for being the
fastest in the world, with bobsleds reaching 148 km/hr on its 16 curves.
Earlier the team poured over a map of the track searching for Corner 13, nicknamed the 5:45 during homologation as several teams crashed there at exactly that time of the day.
The Jamaican team garnered global attention during the 1988
Calgary Winter Olympic Games when they came out of nowhere to become the
darling of the event. The sliders captured Canada’s heart when they crashed
spectacularly near the end of the race and then carried their sled across the
finish line. Their story was immortalized in the Disney film Cool Runnings,
which played in the background as the team visited the track house at the
Whistler Sliding Centre.
Harris, who is traveling with the team and was captain of the
1988 team, hopes for a different kind of fame in 2010.
“I now have a chance to help them do what I couldn’t do in
Calgary, which is to win a medal,” he said.
After stories ran in The Province chronicling the team’s desire
to make the Whistler area their long-term base of operations, the hamlet of
Pemberton decided to adopt the team, providing accommodation, food, and
“Their brand recognition is global and it is a very positive
thing,” said Pemberton resident Ian Porter, who is offering the team free
accommodation at his Copperdome Lodge and spearheaded the town’s decision to
adopt the Jamaican bobsled team.