Thunderbird rugby players Elizabeth Theems-Golding and Annabel Arnott are training with Julie Johnson who competes with Bobsled Canada and is an Olympic hopeful.
The duo had never bobsledded before a few months ago when Johnson approached the team about players joining her in Whistler to learn to be brakemen. The team has a history with the Canadian bobsledding scene as T-Bird head coach Maria Gallo was with the Canadian national bobsled team for two years from 2003 to 2004.
Johnson races a two-man bobsled and is looking for brakemen to join her team. A brakeman helps run and launch the bobsled down the track before jumping in and ducking their head. The brakeman is also responsible for pulling the brakes at the end of a run.
Arnott is a just finished her courses in the Faculty of Science and is a fullback the the ’Birds. Theemes-Golding, a recent transfer, is in her a first year of kinesiology and plays as a wing and fullback with the T-Birds.
“She [Johnson] described it initially, before we'd done it, like being in a dryer,” said Theemes-Golding. “What does that mean? I don't know. But it was kind of like a cold dryer, I guess.”
“It's such an adrenaline rush,” said Arnott.
Both women were surprised with the technicality of the sport.
“The first time, there was no technique to it. It was just run and get in,” explained Arnott. But since the first time, they have been working on their technique and power for the sport.
Theemes-Golding and Arnott aren't sure where bobsledding will take them. Arnott has finished her degree and is training in rugby and bobsledding while also working, where as Theemes-Golding is just starting her degree and career as a Thunderbird.
The two have travelled up to Whistler several times to train with Johnson at the Whistler Sliding Centre and recently returned from a trip to Calgary to train at the Olympic park.
Both will be traveling to Utah in February to compete in part of the North America Cup Circuit. It will be Theemes-Golding's and Arnott's first competition.
“There is nothing in my life — rides, rugby games — that can describe the first time being in [a bobsled] was like,” Theemes-Golding explained.
Both might be new to the sport, but have definitely caught the bobsledding bug.
“We're hooked already.”