'It's sort of zany': Yukon's Streicker meets the 'Yukon Striker'
Yukon MLA John Streicker travelled across the country to ride new roller-coaster at Canada's Wonderland
When Yukon government minister John Streicker first heard about plans for the "Yukon Striker" roller-coaster at Canada's Wonderland, he knew he had to go take a ride.
On Friday — opening day at the Ontario amusement park — Yukon's Streicker finally met the Yukon Striker.
"Let me say this — I'm glad I didn't have breakfast this morning," he said, not long after his first ride on what's billed as the longest, fastest, highest roller-coaster of its type.
"It's such a weird mixture of thrill and panic at the same time ... I don't know who designs these things. It's sort of zany!"
- VideoLongest, fastest, highest roller-coaster of its type set to terrify riders at Canada's Wonderland
The ride's big draw is that for a few seconds, nothing happens. Riders are carried up 75-metres and then held at the top over a vertical drop for three seconds — looking straight down — before plunging down the first drop at 130 km/h.
"It just, it holds you there, and it does this drop, and then you go through all these weird twists and loops, and you're really... I'm happy my stomach was not full!" Streicker said.
"There was screaming all around me, I don't even know whether I was part of it or not."
Streicker went as a sort of ambassador of Yukon — but on his own dime. He says his family decided to make it a bit of a Streicker family reunion, so a dozen of them were spending the day at Canada's Wonderland.
'They reached out to us right away'
"People started reaching out to me right away when we saw that there was something called the 'Yukon Striker,'" he recalled.
He and Yukon's tourism minister made a video for Canada's Wonderland officials, "just sort of cajoling them for naming a ride after me.
"And they reached out to us right away and they invited us to come and be here on the official opening day and cut a ribbon. It was a nice moment."
We had some special guests at the park this morning all the way from western Canada! The Yukon’s <a href="https://twitter.com/JohnStreicker?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JohnStreicker</a> came to ride <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YukonStriker?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#YukonStriker</a> (how fitting!) Thanks for the visit John! <a href="https://twitter.com/WonderlandNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WonderlandNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/GxQCvGgwYt">pic.twitter.com/GxQCvGgwYt</a>—@GracePeacock
The ride is meant to conjure some of Yukon's wilderness and Gold Rush mystique, with mining cars and sluice boxes. Streicker says park officials are also planning some interpretive panels, and want some input from Yukon's tourism department.
Streicker even brought along some Yukon pins to hand out to the "super-excited and screaming" crowds who were lined up early.
When it was finally time to face the music, Streicker — who figures he hadn't been on a roller-caster in decades — was put right up front with a GoPro camera.
"It was something else," he said. "I was hoping that I did us proud. I mean, not that much to do except ride, but I was hoping that I didn't, like, pass out or... I don't know what," he said.
He came through OK — a little shaken, maybe, but happy to have met his namesake, of sorts.
"I'm just really proud as a Yukoner to see our name all over the place here. You walk through the park today, and everybody's saying 'Yukon, Yukon.' And it's really nice that people think of us in this kind of positive light."
With files from Elyn Jones