A Forged Favourite: The Whistler Sliding Centre
Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme…yep, that’s right, it’s bobsleigh time! For anyone inspired by the best underdog story of all time, you might be surprised to hear that you can have your very own Cool Runnings experience right here in Whistler. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Whistler this winter, look no further than the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Built for the 2010 Winter Olympics and home to the fastest bobsleigh track in the whole world, the Whistler Sliding Centre one of the lesser-known highlights of any trip to Whistler. As well as training the next generation of fearless athletes, they offer loads of opportunities for members of the public to try their hand at some of the scariest and most exhilarating sports out there. So if you’re looking for your next adrenalin rush, Whistler Sliding Centre is the place to be.
What is the Whistler Sliding Centre?
If you’ve spent any time in Whistler, it probably hasn’t escaped you that we hosted the Olympics not so long ago. In the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler snagged some of the best events, including downhill skiing, ski jumping and of course, the bobsleigh and skeleton. And then we built some world-class facilities.
Luckily for us (and you), when the Olympics was over, Whistler found an inventive way to make use of these awesome venues. Whistler Sport Legacies was born – a charity who both train elite athletes and run public programs to give everyone the chance to experience a little taste of Olympic glory.
The Whistler Sliding Centre hosts the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track. Located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, and accessible via Excalibur Gondola from Whistler village, it’s right at the heart of Whistler, although if you weren’t told, you might miss it. It’s open 9am – 5pm every day, all year round for anybody to pop in and check out this piece of Olympic history.
They have a great visitor centre and friendly, knowledgeable staff who will tell you the track’s story. You might even get lucky enough to meet a former or current pro athlete hanging around! Even if sliding headfirst down the track isn’t for you, there are loads of fascinating things to learn here.
Did you know, for example, that every inch of the track has to be scraped by hand every day to keep the ice smooth and fast?! Talk about hard work and dedication.
If you want to get your heart pumping though, you want to know more about their Public Bobsleigh and Skeleton programs. Yes, you’re hearing it right. You and all your friends can hop onto the best rollercoaster ride of your life and try out a real Olympic sliding track. Here’s what you need to know before you book.
You know the bobsleigh right? That crazy sport where four people climb inside a metal tube and hurtle down an icy track as fast as they can? The one you’re always a little scared to watch on TV in case they crash? Well, now it’s your turn! But don’t worry, the Whistler Sliding Centre know what they’re doing, with their Experience Bobsleigh option. They’ve made sure to keep us unsuspecting members of the public safe out there. You’ll be safe in the hands of your professional bobsleigh pilot, starting from the seventh corner of the track so you don’t pick up too much speed. Your only job is to hold on, keep your head up and try not to scream too loud.
And trust us, you’ll want to scream. Beside the skeleton (more on that in a minute), the bobsleigh is sure to be one of the most intense rides of your life. Like a rollercoaster, but for real, you’ll pick up speed constantly down the track until you hit the last corner – Thunderbird – where you’ll experience 3-4 Gs of force. If you ever wondered what it feels like to launch into space, it might be something like this.
So here’s what you need to know if you want to sign up for the best ride of your life:
- Experience Bobsleigh runs from 14 December 2018 – 31 March 2019, normally in the early afternoon
- It costs $189 + tax per adult (19+). Youth aged 14+ get a 50% discount when they ride with an adult
- You must be aged 14+ to try the bobsleigh, and between 90 – 285 lbs
- Bobsleigh isn’t suitable for people with limited mobility, who can’t safely grip the safety cable, or who have previous back or neck injuries, heart conditions, or may be pregnant
- You can purchase a video of your ride at the end of your session! Don’t bring a GoPro, as they aren’t allowed on the track
So you tried the bobsleigh, and you want more? Never fear, the Whistler Sliding Centre has got you covered again the Experience Skeleton program! If being piloted by a professional isn’t your thing, and the bobsleigh just feels a little…safe…why not try lying down on a plastic tray and sliding down the track headfirst?! Once again, you’ll be kept safe with a full safety briefing, and a reduced course run. And you’ll get two rides, so once you’ve got over the initial thrill, you’ll get to do it all again! You’ll ride through six corners of the magnificent Whistler Sliding track, and reach speeds of up to 100km/h. Just remember to keep your eyes open!
Here’s what you need to know:
- Like the Bobsleigh, Experience Skeleton runs from 14 December 2018 – 31 March 2019. There’s normally just one timeslot per afternoon, so make sure to book ahead!
- Costs $189 + tax per person
- You must be aged 16+ to try the skeleton and between 90 – 220 lbs
- Once again, the skeleton isn’t really suitable for those with heart conditions, back or neck injuries or who may be pregnant
If you’re looking for something more family friendly, but no less thrilling, how about trying the Discover Luge program? Luge is just like the skeleton, except this time you lie feet first, on your back as you rocket down the track. And for select dates throughout the winter, kids aged 8-14 have the chance to try it out for themselves. They’ll get professional coaching and safety instruction, and then the chance to ride the last four corners of the track themselves! In the two hour session, they can start to progress and learn how to control the luge. And if they discover a love for sliding fast downhill, Whistler Sport Legacies has plenty of development programs available to train the next generation of Canadian Olympians.
All the details:
- Discover Luge is open to kids aged 8-14 years old
- Costs $20 per session for Canadian residents, $40 for all others
- Sessions run on select dates including December 26, 2018, and February 11, 2019
- Discover Skeleton programs for age 14+, and Discover Bobsleigh programs for age 16+ are also available
The Whistler Sliding Centre is located at Base 2 on Blackcomb Mountain. The easiest way to get there is to catch the Excalibur Gondola, which is free for tourists without ski/snowboard gear and runs from 8am – 8pm every day. From the top of the gondola, it’s just a short walk to the Sliding Centre. Alternatively, you can catch the number 7 public bus from the Gondola Transit Exchange, which also drops you close to the track. If you want to drive, there is free guest parking. Just head up Glacier Lane and past parking lot and park by the Whistler Sliding Centre Guest Services Building.
What to Bring (and What Not to Bring)
Remember that you’ll be outside for most of the experience! So bring full ski gear – jacket, pants, warm layers, gloves and warm, grippy winter boots or shoes. You’ll also need to bring some ID with you to prove you’re over the age limit. We’d definitely recommend bringing a camera to capture the centre, but remember you can’t use it while you’re riding and GoPros aren’t allowed. Make sure you aren’t wearing your ski or snowboard boots either!
Most importantly, you can bring as many spectators as you like! So even if the whole family doesn’t want to give it a go, bring them along and they’ll have (almost) as much fun watching you fly down the track as you will as you do it! Oh, and we recommend you bring all your stoke and your biggest smile because we can guarantee you’ll need them before your sliding experience is over.
Whistler Sliding Centre – Not Your Everyday Experience
Whether you’re in Whistler for a week or a year, make sure you find time to visit Whistler Sliding Centre. It’s a totally unique venue, the only place in Canada that you can try the skeleton, and sure to provide you with stories to last a lifetime. Oh, and if you’re here in summer, don’t worry – you can still try out the summer bobsleigh experience. It might just make you want to come back in winter to try the icy version too!