Upperton: Enough whining about track

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. — Helen Upperton has heard enough griping about the controversial track at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

So the Canadian pilot has some advice to the rest of the world for the women’s two-man bobsleigh event which begins Tuesday.

“There are a lot of harder tracks than this,” said the Kuwait-born, Calgary-raised Olympian, who is partnered with Pickering, Ont.’s Shelley Ann Brown. “When you make a mistake, you go upside down. When that happens here, everyone throws their hands up in the air and says, ‘the track’s unsafe’.”

As with most events at the Blackcomb Mountain track, officials and athletes will hold their breath when sleds approach record high speeds. The track has challenged the skill of pilots and tested the nerve of countless athletes asked to go down it.

The concerns haven’t fallen on deaf ears, however. Officials decided yesterday that some of the more challenging turns would be tweaked, including shaving close to an inch of ice off the “50-50 curve,” so named because of the percentage some sliders have said they have of getting through it without a problem.

“You’re standing at the top and you’re thinking you’re ready to vomit,” said American, Bree Schaaf, who is scheduled to pilot one of her country’s three sleds. “All the alarms are going through your head.”

Canada has yet to win an Olympic medal in women’s bob, but with two sleds entered here hope that will change. Upperton was just .05 out of bronze in Torino with her former brakeman, Kallie Humphries, who will team with Heather Moyse this time.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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