There's never been a better time for Sea to Sky residents to get on the ice at the Whistler Sliding Centre thanks to a new special public sliding experience discount being offered for locals until mid-December.
Through the track's new Storm The Ice promotion, people living in the Whistler, Pemberton or Squamish areas are being invited to try riding in a bobsleigh or on a skeleton sled for $69 — that's $100 off the regular price during the rest of the season.
The Whistler Sliding Centre has traditionally not opened the track to public sliders until just before the Christmas season, but the Storm The Ice promotion will kick things off starting Monday, Nov. 18.
"We want to get as many local people down the track as possible," said Patricia Leslie with facility operator Whistler Sport Legacies.
"We've never been open this early before. We know that Whistler isn't as busy in November, but it's a great time for Whistler residents to get familiar with the product."
The public skeleton and bobsleigh rides both offer unique and exhilarating experiences at the venue that hosted all sliding sport competition during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Visitors choosing to try skeleton get two runs down the lower third of the track from the Maple Leaf Start, winding headfirst through the final six turns while lying face-down on the sled. Participants can expect to hit top speeds between 90 and 100 km/h before rounding Thunderbird, the track's iconic final corner.
Bobsleigh riders receive one trip down the course from higher up on the track, taking the bottom 10 turns behind a trained driver and reaching a maximum speed of around 125 km/h.
This winter marks the fourth year that the Whistler Sliding Centre has welcomed the public to take skeleton runs at the track, first introducing the program about one year after the Olympics. Public bobsleigh made its debut in 2012. Leslie said that offering both experiences has helped keep the track busy.
"It's been very popular and increasing every year," she said. "There is only limited capacity every year, but every year we've had incredible success and usually we end up selling out — especially during the busy times in the resort — 80 to 100 per cent of those spots."
Last year, the facility offered the Slide For Hunger program, which was a one-day event featuring skeleton rides in support of the local food bank. This year, the sliding centre is looking to support local athletes through Storm The Ice, with all proceeds benefitting the B.C. Bobsleigh Skeleton Association and the B.C. Luge Association.
The promotion will run each day until Dec. 20, except for Dec. 2 to 8, when the track will be in use for FIL Luge World Cup races.
Reaching those kinds of speeds on an icy chute might make a few people think twice about participating, but Leslie assured anyone having second thoughts that both experiences are tremendously safe. Each participant receives an extensive safety briefing before ever getting on a sled, which includes a helmet fitting and sport orientation.
"Safety is the No. 1 priority at the track," said Leslie.
Some age and physical restrictions apply to the public sliding experiences. Visit www.whistlerslidingcentre.com to learn more.