Sliding Centre undergoing technical evaluation
By Andrew Mitchell
Some of the world’s top athletes in bobsleigh, skeleton and luge are in Whistler this week to test the Whistler Sliding Centre on behalf of the international organizations sanctioning future World Cup and Olympic events.
The first test of the track took place earlier this winter with members of the national bobsled team, but the course has yet to be used for an official test event. In order to pass muster, the track must meet standards set by the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation, the International Luge Federation, as well as the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. National sports organizations from Austria, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia and the U.S. are also involved.
The process is called homologation, with the track being tested and benchmarked for track construction, test venue safety, ensuring technical dimensions comply with regulations, and accepting feedback for modifications and improvements.
VANOC will also provide a forum for international sliding athletes, technical delegates and additional identified experts to offer feedback to track operators, and conduct operational and situational testing for Whistler Sliding Centre staff and volunteers.
A preliminary homologation report on the venue is expected by March 10. Until that time the area will be closed until the homologation process is complete.
The Whistler track is being heralded as one of the fastest in the world by Pierre Leuders, one of the Canadian bobsledders who participated in the first test in December. A grand opening for the facility is expected to take place in the fall, followed by a Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup Feb. 2-8, 2009 and a FIL Luge World Cup Feb. 16-22.