The World Cup is coming to Whistler.
No, not that one. From Nov. 24 to 26, the Whistler Sliding Centre will host the BMW International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup circuit. Fifty-six top sliding athletes from 15 nations—Canada included—are set to break ice on the same track that bore witness to the heroics of Jon Montgomery, Kaillie Humphries, Helen Upperton and Lyndon Rush at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
For Canadian skeleton racer Mirela Rahneva, this week's competition is a golden opportunity to spotlight her sport to viewers at home and abroad.
"Racing in North America means that we get exposure to the sport," said the 34-year-old two-time Olympian. "Canadians normally don't get that. It's nice to have [the event] locally in Whistler. This is a place that we train as Canadians a lot, and it's nice to show the world that we are on the map, we are here, and we are a fast track."
Rahneva and Jane Channell will be the two women representing Canada in skeleton, alongside Blake Enzie and Evan Neufeldt on the men's side. Bobsleigh features a Canadian unit 11 strong, including a B.C. element: Cyrus Gray, a 27-year-old from Duncan, will be in the four-man event.
"I'm a little bit more nervous than excited," Gray admitted. "This my first World Cup race and I have a bunch of people coming to watch."
Watching the races and training sessions at the Sliding Centre will be free all week, with training from Monday to Wednesday and competition from Thursday to Saturday in the mornings and afternoons.
Guests have a few options to reach the track: they can take the free No. 7 transit bus to Blackcomb Staff Housing, or the Excalibur Gondola (free for pedestrians without ski gear) to mid-station and walk 10 minutes from there. Limited parking is available in WB lots 7 and 8 across from the Sliding Centre.
For more information and the full schedule of events, visit the Whistler Sliding Centre's website.