Pemberton embracing sliding sports 

80-member Track Club stepping up to help run Whistler Sliding Centre

click to enlarge Mark Hatton is a two time Luge Olympian and current VANOC Luge Competition Manager. Photo by Scott Brammer -
  • Mark Hatton is a two time Luge Olympian and current VANOC Luge Competition Manager. Photo by Scott Brammer -

It looks like every community in the Sea to Sky corridor is adopting its own Olympic venue.

Whistler’s on board with the alpine, Squamish is spearheading involvement at the Callaghan Nordic venue, and now Pemberton is busy supporting the sliding centre in Whistler.

Pemberton has been following up Olympic opportunities ever since Vancouver and Whistler won the Games in 2003.

This past summer when officials with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games suggested a few Pemberton community members get together for lunch to talk about the sliding centre the pieces began to fall into place.

Now the community has formed The Track Club, which is open to everyone, and has already signed up close to 80 people who are interested in volunteering at the sliding centre.

For Pemberton resident Peter Vandenberg it’s all about the kids.

“We have this world class facility now and Pemberton has a very high percentage of young kids because there has been a sort of a baby boom here,” said Vandenberg.

“What I think is the coolest thing about the sliding centre is that these kids are going to have the opportunity to use this world class facility and possibly get on the podium in the future.

“So we met (with VANOC) and we thought that it would be a great idea if we could grab hold of this opportunity with sliding sports.

“Squamish has sort of adopted cross country skiing and Nordic and we thought it would be a cool thing to have the same thing happen with sliding sports for us and a lot of people are participating at this point.”

If that hope is to become a reality then about 100 locals have to be trained to officiate at the sliding centre track in the different sports which use the track — skeleton, luge and bobsleigh.

Last month there was a training course held for luge. It was just the latest in a series, which are being organized by the Canadian Luge Association. (Go to to find out about courses.)

“We are going to need to recruit just as many officials as we have out here (Calgary) so we can run things out there in the future,” said Tim Farstad, executive director of the luge association from his Calgary office.

“We have a pool of about 100 officials here. For the (2010) Olympic Games the number they are looking for is about 140.”

At Games time some officials will be brought out from Calgary and other parts of the country but it’s hoped that many will be local.

That’s because Luge Canada wants the Whistler track to be self-sufficient leading up to and after the Games, and because there is a concern about where sport organizations will accommodate out-of-town officials in Whistler in 2010.

“We need a large influx of officials from B.C. for this to work and for the future of the sport out there,” said Farstad. “We don’t want to bring a bunch of people from here out there all the time. There is no legacy in that.

“As a national organization we obviously want to have a very successful Olympic Games but we also want to look to the future and make sure that things can continue out there afterward. So we want to have interested people around that area that can just drive down the road and officiate at a local race.”

In order to officiate at an Olympic event people must complete provincial, national, and international level training courses.

The last two sessions held here by the Canadian Luge Association have combined both the provincial and national training sessions.

Vandenberg feels the community will take on the idea. In fact a search is on for sponsors to pay for a dryland push-track training centre in Pemberton.

“We have been looking for a site to build it and there are some possibilities,” he said. That would really bring the world here to practice because they would always come to Pemberton to use that push track.”

The sport association for bobsleigh and skeleton is also running courses to train officials. For more information go to

The track is scheduled to open for a “summer experience” in 2008 with a full operation running for the 2008-09 season.

Pique contacted VANOC to talk about the importance of volunteers to the sliding centre but no one was available to comment.


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