Indigenous

Kanesatake father builds backyard luge track for youngest daughters

Jeffrey Nelson built an icy sled run in his backyard in Kanesatake to give his daughters some outdoor fun.

'I'm a big kid at heart,' says Jeffrey Nelson

Jeffery Nelson built a luge track for his daughters in their backyard in Kanesatake. (Jeffrey Nelson)

As the world's best athletes in winter sports compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, a family in Kanesatake Mohawk Territory, about 66 kilometres west of Montreal, are having fun on a homemade luge track. 

Luge is a winter sport where athletes slide down an icy track on a sled with runners. Olympic athletes can reach speeds of up to 150 km/h, according to Luge Canada.

Jeffrey Nelson said he built his 60 metre icy luge track not for world-class athletics but to keep his children entertained.

"I'm a big kid at heart, so I've been making ice rinks and tunnels and luges since I was a kid," said Nelson, 48.

WATCH | Jeffrey Nelson's kids try out the luge track:

Kanesatake father builds backyard luge track

5 months ago
Duration 1:00
Jeffrey Nelson built an icy sled run in his backyard in Kanesatake to give his daughters some outdoor fun.

Nelson has built a luge track for their backyard the last couple of winters, but since the COVID-19 pandemic he's made them more extreme. 

"When Covid started, all my kids' sports came to an end and I was just looking for something they could do outside," said Nelson. 

The girls are involved in ringette, volleyball, softball and lacrosse and Nelson has been a volunteer coach in his community for 32 years. He owns and operates a roofing and construction company and with the help of his work friends they built the track in about 30 hours. 

A view from the homemade luge track built by Jeffrey Nelson and his work friends. The 60-metre track took 30 hours to complete and starts with a 3.5 metre drop. (submitted by Jeffrey Nelson )

Nelson said they started the track from the top of his gazebo and used a ladder to make the drop at least 3.5 metres high. Then they made an icy path and shaped it to his daughters' circular sleds, making sure the track had plenty of twists and turns. 

Nelson said he tried it first to make sure it was safe. 

"It's always scary," said Nelson, with a laugh.

Jeffrey Nelson and his wife Kelly have five daughters, front row from left: Tewehshon (Patience), Kahsennine, Wahianonron (Kaliayah). Back row from left: Tewateronhiakwa, Jeffrey, Kelly, and Watsenniiostha. (Submitted by Jeffrey Nelson. )

Nelson and his wife have five daughters. Three of them are adults and they bring their children over for some winter fun. The two youngest daughters, Patience, 10, and Kaliayah, 12, are having plenty of fun on the track. 

"It was really fun and fast," said Patience. 

Nelson also makes skating rinks and snow castles in their backyard. He said it's rewarding enough hearing his kids laughing but it's a real treat when they invite their friends over to join in the winter play.

"It brings a big smile to my face just watching the kids enjoy themselves and not on their video games," said Nelson.

He said outdoor fun is a nice way to release some stress and he's already planning for next year's luge track, which he said will probably be even bigger. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Oscar Baker III is a Black and Mi’kmaw reporter from Elsipogtog First Nation. He is the Atlantic region reporter for CBC Indigenous. He is a proud father and you can follow his work @oggycane4lyfe

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