Life In the Big Green Jolly

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Luge at Winsport

single person on luge track at Viessmann Luge World Cup
Professional sledder at the Viessmann Luge World Cup championship in Calgary.

Above is what we imagined we looked like during our luge experience at Winsport.  

The reality was more like this.



Sledder sliding around a curve at Winsport indoor push facility
Sliding down the indoor luge push facility – Winsport

Canada Olympic Park – the complex

The Winsport not-for-profit corporation owns and operates the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.  Locals will refer to the venue by several names – ‘Winsport’, ‘C.O.P.’ or ‘Canada Olympic Park’. Calgary created the park to host the 1988 Winter Olympics.

At the park, many activities are available – including downhill skiing, luge, skeleton, and bobsledding.  It is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Calgary.

Plan to spend a few hours or an entire day here depending on the activities you choose.  There is onsite food and drink available so no need to leave the park until the day is over.

Viessmann Luge World Cup

During our visit, we had intended to purchase the ‘Public Luge’ experience.  However, the track was being used that day as part of the Luge World Cup. My disappointment over missing out on a “G-force” experience myself was quickly overridden by the awe of watching the professionals careen down the ¾ mile length course navigating 14 turns at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.

Relay luge team - two people on one luge
Relay team at the Viessmann Luge World Cup in Calgary.

We walked to various spots along the track to get different viewpoints of the racers. Standing near the starting house, we could hear the coaches or teammates yelling encouragement as the racers launched themselves from the starting block. Standing two feet away from a straight-away, the racer would zip by almost quicker than I could snap a photograph. At curve 12, we could watch the racer enter and exit the turn. After a while, we could start to judge by their line in the curve what their finish time might be. Just past the finish flag, we stood on a bridge and watched the racers brake to slow their sleds down before they ran out of track.

Professional luge athlete existing start house at Winsport
Professional luge athlete existing start house at Winsport

During the break between races, we purchased some hot-chocolate in the festival tent.  Glancing around, I realized we are standing right next to some of the professional luge athletes.  How odd to think I just saw them careening down the track followed by their face larger-than-life on the big screen at the finish line.

Try Luge – the experience  


During the World Cup event, the park was offering a free ‘Try Luge’ experience at the indoor training center.

At the indoor practice area, we met the volunteers helping with our experience. The park hosts many clubs and programs to encourage youth sports development – including a luge club. Parents of the club members provided adult supervision while the actual instructors were two young teenagers. The teenagers talked about the luge program and how long they had been participating. Safety instructions were given. These included: remove bulky or loose clothing, tie up long hair that might get caught, and choose a snugly fitting helmet. Next, the instructors gave an overview of the training course and the self-driving sleds.

Man launching from the starting block of indoor luge practice track at Winsport
Launching from starting block of indoor push facility

After climbing the 10 steps to get to the platform at the top of the course, we got a quick lesson on the luge ‘start’. For your first run, the instructors suggested that a volunteer push you rather than launching yourself. Launching yourself required an even push-off using both arms so as to not skew the sled. Being adrenaline junkies, we launched ourselves.

My Runs

Indoor luge push facility - Winsport
Indoor luge push facility – Winsport

My first run was an outlier.  Pure luck had me on a course line that was fast and smooth.  There were no official timings done, but it felt like I finished the 150-foot length course in just seconds.  The finish is an uphill onto a carpeted surface to stop you slowly. “What a rush!” I exclaimed to the adult volunteer as I grabbed my sled to return it to the starting point.

My second run was closer to reality.  The teenage volunteer shouted at me to lay back as I left the starting gate.  Oops – I know that so why was I still sitting up? My line on the course was not great and I entered the finish line at a much slower pace.  One more try to get it right!

My third run convinced me I was not a natural at this sport.  As I bounced off the walls and barely had enough speed to get to the finish line, I heard a few exclamations of ‘Whoa!’ and ‘Uh-oh’ from the spectators.  Too bad there wasn’t a video to show my mistakes. I guess several factors were at play – an uneven pull on the start, not laying back all the way, and just a bad body position.  Since no humans and no sleds were broken during my final run, I chalked it up to needing more practice.


A weekend in Calgary ought to include time at the Canada Olympic Park. Plan ahead to coordinate your visit with events offered on the park’s public experience calendar.

Fast Facts

  • Trip Date: early December 2018
  • Name: Winsport
  • Location: Calgary, Canada
  • Cost: $ – $$$ depending on selected activities