Canada Olympic Park

Snowboarders love the Superpipe, opened in 2002 and the only pipe of its kind in Alberta, with walls that are at least 15 feet high. It is also used for training Canadian athletes to compete at international and Olympic competitions.

Our guide Jocelyne also took us to the Icehouse which is the world’s only indoor refrigerated track where luge, bobsleigh and skeleton athletes practice the ever-important push start techniques. All the tracks feature multiple cameras and interval timing mechanisms that allow the athletes to analyze their push-start technique moving from frame to frame in intervals of a fraction of a second. Many foreign teams come to this facility to practice their push-start techniques.

The Ice House

The Ice House features some interesting statistics:

– it is 143 m along (almost the length of one football field) and four stories high

– nine kilometers of steel piping is used to cool the three tracks

– tracks are kept at a constant temperature of -2 to -3 degrees Celsius

– a unique monorail system automatically returns the bobsleigh and skeleton sleds to the push-start area while allowing for continuous training

– a vide system incorporates standard video and the latest DVD playback technology.

After our visit to the Ice House we drove up the hill past the Olympic Bobsleigh Track which includes 14 twists and turns, the place where the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team made their first Olympic appearance and won the hearts of spectators all over the world. It is still used as a Word Cup circuit venue for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events.

The 90 m ski jump tower

Our next stop was the 90 meter ski jump tower – incidentally the highest point in Calgary and today, as the weather was clearing up, we started to get a great view of the downtown area. Jocelyne explained that with today’s new ski jumping techniques, the 90 m ski jump can no longer be used since skiers are now able to jump 120 m and more and there would not be enough space for them to land safely. Nevertheless, riding the glass elevator up to the observation level of this tower and peering down the ski jump is an awesome experience.

Looking down the ski jump

Jocelyne explained that Canada Olympic Park is also an archeological site where remains have been found that indicate that this hill used to be a buffalo jump, a place that native tribes used to hunt buffalo.

1956 hockey jacket

Many of the Canadian Olympic athletes who did so well at the recent 2006 Torino Olympics actually train at Canada Olympic Park, and this year’s success of Canadian Olympic athletes bodes well for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

The 12 different types of medals given away during the XV Winter Olympics

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