New Brunswick's Crazy Canucks bring home best sled award from U.S. toboganning meet
The Fredericton-based team also awarded a bronze on the 4-man downhill run
Four members of the Fredericton Toboggan Club returned home as winners after competing in the U.S. National Toboggan Championship in Camden, Maine.
The Crazy Canucks team brought home the bronze in the four-person category at an international competition with more than 1,000 participants from as far away as Ireland.
"It blows my mind," said Derick Weeks. "I think everybody on the team feels the same way."
Weeks, along with teammates Justin Agnew, Mat Fitzgerald, and Adam Valentate came in at 10.55 seconds in the 32nd annual competition on Sunday. According to the event's website, the toboggan chute is "400 feet long and rises 70 feet in elevation, allowing many toboggans to reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour."
The win came as a shock as they'd only competed once before. Previously they built a much different toboggan, opting to aim for lightweight and streamlined. This year they changed strategies. At the weigh-in their toboggan came in at 49.8 pounds, just shy of the 50-pound limit.
"There's guys that have been trying for one of these little wooden trophies for 15 years," said Adam Valentate, who built the toboggan in his garage over the last year. "It's amazing how much people covet these little things. And we really did something special to come in our second year and already come home with some hardware."
Valentate also took home the award for Best Crafted Toboggan at the competition for the sled he crafted from walnut, using maple for its runner. He says what set their sled apart is the unique woven mesh he spent hours on to make the mandatory seat cushion. He credits that mesh design for the win, saying there were a lot of teams eyeing the design for future builds.
"There's hundreds of toboggans that get built for this thing, and to be recognized as the best one was quite a feeling," said Valentate.
"And not only was it the prettiest toboggan there, it was the third fastest in the four-man competition, so we not only had a good-looking sled, but we had a real fast sled."
The team says they first entered last year for fun, not realizing the depth of competition that existed. While there is a shared sense of camaraderie, they say there are some teams who are very secretive about their sleds and strategies. Some don't want photos snapped of their sleds, and others are very specific about what time of day they go down the hill.
After one team didn't take the top spot, they made a slick video about "sacrificing" their toboggan to a wood-chipper vowing to return to the drawing board and take the championship the following year. But others are all too happy to share their stories about what they call their functional art that goes flying down icy hills.
The team says it's all in good fun, pointing to the Oldest Team award. This year's winner was the Frogs on a Log team with an average age of 83.
The Fredericton team is vowing to try to take the top spot next year and recruiting a women's team to join them at the competition.
"It's just a fun, fantastic event with a whole bunch of nice, welcoming people that want to talk about what they've built," said Valentate.