Jamaicans to set up party house in Whistler 

Famed bobsleigh team plan to take over nightclub during 2010

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Whether or not the island nation of Jamaica has a bobsleigh team competing in the 2010 Olympics still remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure - the Jamaicans will be in Whistler for the Games.

The world's most infamous bobsleigh team will be setting up their own home base in one of Whistler's hottest nightclubs, the Savage Beagle.

"It's a little bit of Jamaica, mon, up in Whistler," said Stephen Samuels of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation.

The two-man and four-man bobsleigh teams, led by driver Hannukkah Wallace, is hopeful it will qualify for the Games this winter, though the team did not qualify for the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.

"The bottom line is, whether the team qualifies or not, the Jamaica house will be there," said Samuels.

"However, we're working hard and I'm very optimistic that the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team will be competing in 2010."

Savage Beagle's owner Derek Pink said this partnership will create a unique Olympic nightclub experience for Whistler.

"To have a programmed event that's a draw, that's open to the public... it's important for business during the Games," he said.

"Being a nightclub owner I thought this was a good partnership to stand out."

Pink has also made a deal with the Swiss Olympic Committee to host the House of Switzerland at one of his other Whistler spots, The Mountain Club. He is one of the few restaurant/bar owners in town to have brokered deals like these.

The Jamaica Bobsleigh House will feature all things Jamaican, like reggae music and island food.

The current bobsleigh team members will be there, as well as the teammates from the first Jamaican Bobsleigh Team, which first competed at the Calgary Games in 1988, and were later made famous in the classic underdog Disney movie Cool Runnings .

"They became a metaphor for persistence," explained Samuels, of the team's fame.

"It's the underdogs... somebody coming from a place where they're not quite supposed to be coming from, and finding success on their own terms."

Samuels sees the Whistler house not only as a way to raise the Jamaican team's profile and raise funds for them, but also as a way of promoting the sport itself.

"It's not just an amusement park ride that found its way to the Olympics," he said. "It's a very dangerous undertaking, literally. It's a powerful sport. And it's also the most expensive winter Olympic sport."

Whistler is now home to one of the 18 tracks in the world, at a cost of $105 million.

The Jamaican Bobsleigh House will be open every night during the Games, from Feb. 12 to 28.

A limited number of tickets will be sold in advance. VIP tickets are $100 and include an invitation to the team's personal party space and a bag of Jamaican goodies. Tickets to get into the club will be $30 to $40.

To get tickets go to www.jambob2010whistler.com.

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