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and moguls skiers Daichi Hara of Japan and Jae Woo Choi of South Korea

Time:2018-02-11 17:03Shoes websites Click:

there does take Games What

Twenty years have passed since snowboarder Ross Rebagliati shouted out "WHISTLER" after winning gold in 1998.

And over the next two weeks, as the Games return to Asia, a number of local athletes could be well positioned atop the podium to repeat Ross' yell.

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The Whistler roster ranges from first-timer Reid Watts, the 19-year-old luger who represents the first hyper-local legacy of the Whistler Sliding Centre, to snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll, who made her Olympic debut a dozen years ago in Italy and is off to her fourth Games. As well, part-timers like alpine skier Jack Crawford and athletes representing other nations, like luger Veronica Ravenna of Argentina, alpine skier Arabella Ng of Hong Kong, and moguls skiers Daichi Hara of Japan and Jae Woo Choi of South Korea, have strong Whistler connections.

With competition kicking off Feb. 8 in curling and ski jumping and the opening ceremonies slated for Friday, Feb. 9, Pique looks at who to keep an eye on during the two-week extravaganza and shares stories from the athletes as they get ready to compete.

It's clear to anyone watching the Games that it takes years of preparation to reach the pinnacle of sporting achievement, the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It's hard to imagine what it takes to learn the control and confidence to hurtle down a mountain or a sliding track or race as fast as you can on skinny skis.

So reporters Dan Falloon and Brandon Barrett decided to take to the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre to get a taste of the thrill and commitment it takes to be world-class athlete.


By Brandon Barrett

"Things will go a lot easier for you if you just relax."

This is a message that gets repeated constantly by the top-notch coaching staff at the Whistler Sliding Centre. It's a tidbit of advice that rings true on a certain logical level, but from a practical standpoint, it turns out "just relaxing" is a lot easier said than done when facing the daunting prospect of hurtling down an ice-covered track at speeds that can crack 140 kilometres an hour.

Home to the skeleton, luge and bobsleigh events at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Whistler Sliding Centre is where we found ourselves on a recent snowy morning last month. Pique sports editor Dan Falloon and I had made what seemed like a good decision at the time to test our mettle on the fastest ice track on the planet.

I knew somewhere deep down that we were going to be just fine. We were, after all, in good hands, having been teamed up with the sliding centre's finest coaches, handpicked specifically to show us uncoordinated reporters the ropes. Besides, "the training sleds are basically uncrashable," reassures bobsleigh head coach Ryan Taal.

I breathe a sigh of relief. We're probably not going to die today.

"Well, except for the time the Chinese national team flipped one."



It's the constant push and pull between the rational and irrational parts of the brain that seemed to dominate my headspace in the moments before setting off from Corner 11. First up was skeleton, which, if its morbid name doesn't freak you out, sliding headfirst, Superman-style sure will. Skeleton, head coach Cassie Hawrysh informs us, is actually the safest of the three main sliding sports, which is sort of like saying a Glock 9 is the safest kind of firearm.

All of this was running through my mind as I settled onto the sled, stomach down, face just inches from the ice, each hand white-knuckled around the saddle. Oh, did I mention there aren't any brakes? Riders have to use good ole-fashioned torque to navigate each tight corner, and rakes on the toes of their specially designed shoes to help them slow down if need be. This doesn't exactly strike me as the most effective braking system to avoid catastrophic injury, but, hey, I'm not the expert here.

"You want to melt into your sled," explains Hawrysh, an alternate for the 2014 Olympics, urging me to roll my shoulders forward, pushing my helmet even closer to the face-strafing ice. This, as I would learn, is no easy feat. Your body naturally wants to tense up as it careens down the sloping track, neck straining to see the next turn, arms clinging to the sled for dear life. This is, understandably, not the most aerodynamic way to slide, which became evident when I clocked in with a nothing-to-write-home-about time of just over 35 seconds on my first run.


The essence of any sliding sport, essentially, is tricking yourself into a state of profound calm, going against your better instincts. I tried to carry this top of mind as I prepared for my second run, taking long, deep breaths and a few minutes to stretch before jumping back on the sled. The run, in and of itself, was exhilarating. There's a certain liberating feeling to skeleton that I didn't find in the more technical sport of bobsleigh, with its memorized corners and D-ring steering. Skeleton is more about feel, armed with only your toes for braking and subtle shifts in your body weight for navigation. At least at my beginner level, you have no choice but to give yourself over to the kinetic forces at play, strapping in for the ride.

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