How fast can you climb the ski jump at Whistler Olympic Park?
That was the challenge presented to four hundred men and women on Sunday, who signed up to take part in the Red Bull 400, a race where competitors climb to the top of the hill as fast as they can.
It’s a short race. And a grueling one too.
“There’s a lot of people that have not done anything like this before as well,” said Geoff Langford, the race’s Co-Director.
“We’ve had [people] dropping in here the last few days, looking up that ski hill and wondering what on earth they signed up for.”
This same race has been held at ski hills in Europe since 2011, but this is the first time it’s being held in North America, making it a draw for thrill seekers. Some have come from as far away as South Africa just to take part.
Olivier Babineau, who traveled from eastern Canada to do the race, had one of the best qualifying times of the day.
He says the secret to success is to just keep going.
“The first part is good and then when you get to the really steep part, it’s maybe good to look up once but after that just grind until you get to the little plateau area,” said Babineau.
Organizers agree: one of the worst things you could do is to look down.
“One of the toughest things is if anyone looks back or looks down because its so close to vertical that it really gives you a real sense of vertigo and anybody that has any heights issues can really just freeze up so the key is not to look back down,” said Langford.
The winners were Brandon Crichton of North Vancouver with a time of three minutes and 53 seconds, and Zoe Dawson of Squamish with a time of five minutes and eight seconds. They receive an all-inclusive trip to a secret location in Europe – where they’ll compete against winners from other Red Bull races in a global championship.