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Luge track to leave lasting legacies

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Facility promotes Whistler and the sliding sports

Did you ever think your granny could hurtle down a luge track, experiencing G forces as she whipped around corners?

Her thinning blue hair would be blowing in the wind. Her wrinkly face would be as smooth as a baby’s bum, briefly. And her knitting would be long forgotten as she blazes an icy vertical trail.

Well, one day she might be doing just that in Whistler. Gramps might even strap on a helmet and jump on board too.

At the bob/luge track in Calgary, site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, grannies and kids frequently barrel down a vertical drop of 123 metres at almost 100 kilometres per hour.

It’s called the fastest minute of your life.

"We had people from all walks of life, from 70-yer-old women to nine year old boys," said Tim Farstad, who once worked at the Calgary luge track.

"People loved it."

Farstad is now the program co-ordinator for the Olympic Luge Training Centre/Canadian Luge Association. He says a luge track in Whistler could do wonders for the sport, as it has in Calgary.

"It’s the best thing we could hope for," he said.

The Olympic Bid Corp. has picked the Base II area of Blackcomb as the home for the new Whistler Sliding Centre for the 2010 Olympic Games. The facility will house the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events, assuming the bid is successful.

Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb, said the company would not receive compensation if the track is built on Blackcomb.

"We have agreed to let that be developed should we be fortunate enough to win the bid," Forseth said.

"It is just an enhancement for the Games and a legacy for the village of Whistler. We will not operate it, we are just allowing it to be developed there."

"What you have to do is work with the contours," said Sam Corea, director, media relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

"(The site) has enough of the twists and turns to make sure there’s challenge involved for the sport."

Along with the excellent mountain terrain for the track, the Blackcomb site is also a prime location because of the easy access to the village.

"It’s quite visible to people in the village" said Corea.

"There was discussion of maybe having it in the Callaghan Valley but again that’s not really on the beaten track. It’s more hidden.

"This one provides more exposure and wide accessibility to people."

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