Canadian bobsleigh hero takes first test runs at The Whistler Sliding Centre



    Full series of Inaugural test runs photos available

    VANCOUVER, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - Pierre Lueders, four-time Olympian and the
most decorated slider in Canadian history, and brakeman Justin Kripps
participated in the christening of The Whistler Sliding Centre track on the
afternoon of December 19, 2007, making some of the first runs at the new
venue.
    The testing was captured in a series of nine compelling photos released
today on www.vancouver2010.com. Cutlines for each photo can be found at the
end of this media release. High resolution photos are available for download
at www.vancouver2010.com by opening the news release on the left hand side of
the home page and clicking on the links embedded in the cutlines.
    "What a rush... and what a privilege to be the first ones down the newest
Canadian sliding track," said Lueders. "I've driven every track in the world
and each one has its own personality. The Whistler track was challenging and
will unquestionably test the skills of the world's best sliding athletes."
Lueders and Kripps (photo 1) who is new to Lueders' crew this year, have their
sights set on gold for the 2010 Games.
    Early test runs on the track are designed to test the newly formed track
ice as well as the support facilities. VANOC decided to test 10 curves of the
winding track beginning a lower start located one third down from the top of
the track. The test runs on Wednesday started with a walk down the track to
inspect and familiarize with the ice quality, lighting, visibility, speed and
best line, accompanied by Terry Gudzowsky, technical delegate from the
International Bobsleigh Federation (FIBT) (photo 2).
    Following inspection, Lueders and Kripps began a series of six runs from
the lower start, which is approximately 520 meters down the 1450 meter lit
competition track, with track workers cheering them on. The first test run
included a short push start (photo 3), a clean run (photos 4-7) and a small
jump during the slide leading into the deceleration zone due to an ice ridge
(photo 8), which was subsequently shaved down for the remaining runs. The six
runs on the 10 winding curves tested were completed over the course of two
hours.
    "The first test run down a new sliding track is a big moment - and who
better to take it than Pierre, one of the world's premier bobsleigh drivers
and Justin, his brakeman from Summerland, B.C., who began his competition
career just two years ago," said Craig Lehto, VANOC's director of The Whistler
Sliding Centre. "We're pleased with the way the track performed in these first
test runs and made a few adjustments and observations that simply can't happen
until a sled actually takes to the ice. The next step will be to test skeleton
and luge sleds as well. This is just the beginning of tuning up The Whistler
Sliding Centre for future competitions."
    "Throughout the planning, design and construction processes, everything
has gone according to plan," said Terry Gudzowsky, Technical Delegate for the
FIBT. "Indications from the initial descents confirm our expectations that The
Whistler Sliding Centre will quickly become one of the finest venues for
sliding sports. We are excited about the prospect of having our international
bobsleigh and skeleton athletes experience the challenges that this track will
offer."
    Robert H. Storey president of the FIBT commented, "The FIBT looks forward
to the official homologation of the facility and all indicators point to The
Whistler Sliding Centre becoming one of the more challenging tracks in the
world."
    Track testing at The Whistler Sliding Centre has now finished for the
year and will resume in late January 2008. The FIBT and the International Luge
Federation (FIL) are expected to officially homologate (sanction) the track in
the spring. The first international competition will be the FIBT World Cup in
February 2009. VANOC announced the end of construction of The Whistler Sliding
Centre in mid-December, however the venue remains under final development and
is closed to the public.

    Photo cutlines:
    ---------------
    PHOTO 1: Canadian bobsledders Pierre Lueders, pilot (Olympic
medallist/World Champion/World Cup Champion) and Justin Kripps, brakeman, on
The Whistler Sliding Centre track before taking their inaugural run. Photo
Courtesy VANOC/Photos: David McColm

    PHOTO 2: Canadian's top bobsled driver, Pierre Lueders inspects the
Whistler Sliding Centre track with Terry Gudzowsky, technical delegate from
the International Bobsleigh Federation, during initial testing of the track.
Photo Courtesy VANOC/Photos: David McColm

    PHOTO 3: Canadian bobsledders Pierre Lueders, pilot and Justin Kripps
push off their two man bobsled from a lower start for their first run down the
new Whistler Sliding Centre track. Photo Courtesy VANOC/Photos: John Eastman

    PHOTO 4-7: Canadian bobsledders Pierre Lueders, pilot (Olympic
medallist/World Champion/World Cup Champion) and Justin Kripps (brakeman)
conquer their first run on the new Whistler Sliding Centre track, as track
workers cheer them on. Courtesy VANOC/Photos: David McColm

    PHOTO 8: The first test run of Canadian bobsledders Pierre Lueders, pilot
(Olympic medallist/World Champion/World Cup Champion) and Justin Kripps
(brakeman) on the Whistler Sliding Centre track included some air time near
the end due to an ice ridge which was shaved down for their next five test
runs. Courtesy VANOC/Photos: David McColm

    PHOTO 9: Canadian bobsledders Pierre Lueders, (second from the left) and
Justin Kripps, (third from the left) joined The Whistler Sliding Centre's
construction staff following their test runs down the new track. Photo
Courtesy VANOC/Photos: David McColm





For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts, Andrew Riley, Vancouver 2010,
(778) 328-6721; Chris Brumwell, Vancouver 2010, (778) 328-6269

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VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

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