The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Jamaica's bobsled team arrives in Canada but faces commute to train

  • Print

WHISTLER, B.C. - The Jamaican bobsleigh team arrived here Sunday but it appears the squad will have to commute to the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary to train.

In 1988, the Jamaican squad stunned the world by competing at the '88 Calgary Winter Games, a feat immortalized in the Disney film "Cool Runnings." The team's current members have made Pemberton, B.C., a North American training base for practice and preparations for the Whistler World Cup in February as well as qualifying runs for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

There is only one major glitch - the team has yet to be granted on-ice training time at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

"We are confident that magic will ensue and track time will open up before the team starts competing," said Stephen Samuels of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation. "In the meantime, some of the team members will commute to Calgary to train on the ice."

For about 11 years, the Jamaicans have trained in Evanston, Wy. But with the 2010 Olympics on the horizon, the team expressed interest in relocating to Whistler for training.

While Pemberton, just 20 minutes north of Whistler, offered support months ago, the Whistler Sliding Centre just learned of the team's arrival.

"The first communication we received from the Jamaican National Bobsleigh Federation regarding access to the venue for track time came early December and we are unable to accommodate their request as this late date," said Craig Lehto, director at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

The Whistler Sliding Centre is working to give the Jamaican team time on the track but it likely won't happen until the new year.

Lehto said two international training weeks are being organized for January and February and teams requesting additional track access need to apply.

Officials in Pemberton, meanwhile, might like the Jamaicans to stick around.

Ian Porter, owner of the Copperdome Lodge in Pemberton, said the Jamaicans' arrival gives the community a stake in the 2010 Winter Games.

"I don't see Pemberton getting a lot out of these Olympics to date," Porter said. "In the short term, if we have to fly the team to Calgary, we will.

"The community is incredibly supportive of the team."

Though the Jamaican team can seem like a novelty, Porter notes the squad consists of serious athletes.

The four-man team was initially ridiculed in Calgary, where it finished 29th. The team's best Olympic result was a 14th-place finish in Lillehammer in 1994.

Porter and other members of the Pemberton community are looking at sponsorship options to help cover the other costs for the team. The Jamaicans will be in Canada through next spring before returning home for the summer and returning next fall leading up to 2010.

"We couldn't do this without Pemberton," Samuels said. "The team will be taking advantage of whatever facilities are available in terms of indoor training and spending a lot of time in the gym.

"They are eager to become a part of the community and hoping the experience adds up to 'Cool Runnings,' Part 2."

The six members of the Jamaican team - Wayne Thomas, Hannukkah Wallace, Joel Alexander, Marvin Dixon, Garnett Jones and Wayne Blackwood - have reportedly committed to getting involved in community activities.

"We are delighted to be hosting the Jamaican bobsled team here in our beautiful town," said Pemberton mayor Jordan Sturdy. "We are all great fans of their story and legacy, and especially admire their great competitive spirit."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Lawless in the Morning: Former NHLer Jeff O'Neill, Montreal Canadiens and help for the Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


What are your feelings on NHL potentially implementing 3-on-3 overtime?

View Results

Ads by Google