UBCO aims for first place in Big White concrete toboggan race

49th annual toboggan race

The 49th annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race is happening at Big White Ski Resort this weekend.

Featuring university teams from all across the country, UBC Okanagan will be up against some stiff competition as they shoot for a first place finish for the very first time.

Gathering at the Delta Grand Hotel on Friday, the day before the race, teams got together to share their builds, and to put any last minute touches on their rides.

"[UBCO] placed second once and it's the best finish for the school ever. We're hoping to beat that this year and to get the first top place finish for the team, and to make history," explained UBCO team leader and third-year engineering student Gaelen Smith.

Dressed in cow costumes to spice up the event and bring some laughs, the UBCO team of 23 will be taking on 16 other universities and more than 350 students — who are all in their own unique and funny costumes.

"We will work together for roughly nine or 10 months to build and design our toboggan from scratch," added Smith.

“It’s a really interesting one because we get to put all our practical knowledge to use, and it’s always cool to see what other teams are doing because we have our ideas and they have theirs. Plus, it’s always fun to meet up with other students from around the country.”

Smith tells Castanet race day will feature three different events including the braking competition, the steering competition, and the King of the Hill competition, which will be the main event of the evening.

“I think we’re going to do pretty well in the King of the Hill competition. Our skis this year are a little extra quick, we got some special wax on there, so I think we’re going to do pretty good.”

The skis are the only part of the toboggan made of concrete, with the frame being made out of different types of metal. Now, teams finally have a chance to put their ideas to the test.

“This is a huge opportunity because in our courses everything we do is theoretical. This gives us an opportunity to actually apply that. This gives all of us an opportunity to put all our knowledge and skill to practice," said Smith.

"This is huge for co-ops, they love seeing these on resumes and it shows we actually understand how to design something we’re going to build. It’s one of the biggest things that’s helped me in my university career so far.”

UBCO will head up to the mountain this weekend with the event running Friday to Sunday.

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