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Winter Carnival is coming; big changes for bobsled

One historic bobsled, the Pink Canoe, in an earlier year

By Tara Kowalchuk, Rossland Winter Carnival President

Everyone’s favourite high speed, high adrenalin Winter Carnival event is back, with a few updates. The biggest change is that registration and inspection night, and the Bobsled Calcutta Auction will be held one week earlier on Thursday, January 18 at 7:00pm at the Legion.

The Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race has been a highlight of Rossland Winter Carnival for as long as anyone can remember. Build a homemade bobsled out of whatever you can find and race it down an icy street at up to 85kph? Sounds crazy, yet year after year thrill seeking locals and visitors say, “Sign me up!” In fact, numbers have been increasing each year, with 2017 boasting a record breaking 43 teams.

We have seen sleds made from a Vespa scooter, a pink canoe, a hollowed out log, a bed, and even a piano! The only specs being that the sled had to have brakes and steering, which, like the sleds themselves, came in a variety of forms. This year, the rules are tightening up a bit to say that the brakes must be able to lift the sled off the ground, and that no right-left independent braking systems will be allowed. As always, helmets are mandatory, and there are no sharp things allowed to be sticking out of your sled. “We are working hard, and committed to making this event as safe as possible for everyone involved, sledders and spectators alike.” Says Kelly Acheson, Bobsled organizer. “There will be some new ‘no-go’ zones for spectators along the course, and we are asking for everyone to help us out by cooperating and respecting these closures.”

All sleds are required to attend a registration and inspection night prior to being admitted in the race. New this year:  pre-registration is required and can be done online, the link can be found at http://rosslandwintercarnival.com in the Event Rules tab. Also, as mentioned above, registration and inspection night will be held one week earlierthan usual, on Thursday, January 18 at 7:00 pm at the Legion.

Along with registration night comes a relatively new event, the Bobsled Calcutta Auction. This event is open to the public and has grown exponentially in its five years with Carnival. “The first year we held the Calcutta, we had about 20 sledders in attendance and the winner made about $37,” says Tara Kowalchuk, Calcutta organizer. “Last year we had over 100 people, sledders and public, and the top prize was over $600!” The way this event works is, we auction off each bobsled team to the highest bidder, then if the sled you “buy” comes in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd or a mystery placing (which is drawn on race day) you win a percentage of the auction money. The Boomtown Garter Girls will also be performing at the Calcutta, so come get an early start to Carnival; have a drink, bid on a sled, and watch the girls kick a leg to kick off 2018!

For a full schedule of Winter Carnival events, event rules and registration, or to volunteer please visit rosslandwintercarnival.com