This past weekend I was fortunate to attend the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation World Cup in Whistler as a member of the Queens’ Alumni committee. Amy Smith, another former Stampede Queen, and Vanessa Stiffarm, Indian Princess alumni, also attended with me as the current Royalty were at the Grey Cup that same weekend.
Team Canada with Vanessa, (L) Amy, (C) and me (R)
“Hold up,” you might be thinking: “ice and cowboy boots don’t exactly go together; what on earth is the Stampede up to sending its past Royalty to a Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup?” Well, sponsoring the Canadian Bobsled team is actually aligned with the organization’s goal of showcasing our brand to the world; the Stampede is proud to support our Canadian athletes on their journey to the World Cup, as they inspire each of us to be our best.
While I was there, I discovered that while the sports of rodeo and bobsledding might initially appear to be completely different, there are many more similarities than one might have imagined.
Amy checking out our awesome branded bobsleigh
For starters, neither of these sports attract fair-hearted athletes; they only attract athletes that thrive on the blood-pounding rush of adrenaline. Another similarity is that both sports rely on a mode of transportation to get them from point A to B (sleds and horses). These athletes work hard through and through, pushing 500 pounds of bobsled and hanging on to 1,200-pound bucking stock requires both a formidable amount of strength! In fact, many bobsled competitors I was able to interact with were veterans of other sports such as sprinting, cycling and professional football!
Perhaps most importantly, the sense of community spirit that functions as the lifeblood of rodeo is also present in the bobsledding/skeleton universe. For those not familiar with the world of rodeo, individuals travelling around the rodeo circuit rally around each other like one extended family. It was humbling to see this same displayed at the World Cup, as athletes from countries all over the world celebrated the achievements of their fellow competitors.
Excitement following a medal ceremony
Handing out medals to the winners was as exhilarating as speaking to guests and competitors from around the world and sharing the Stampede brand with them. Many World Cup attendees were from Europe and were so surprised to learn that the Calgary Stampede has 2,300 volunteers who work together to put on a festival for our whole city to enjoy every year. After speaking with them and sharing the community spirit that the Stampede brings, I wouldn’t be surprised to run into them again during Stampede 2018.
We brought Harry the Horse with us to help spread our western hospitality!
At the end of the day, one of the Stampede’s greatest strengths is its ability to draw people together from all walks of life. I was proud to see the CS logo displayed on the side of team Canada’s four-man bobsled. Witnessing the global community wearing our iconic white hats and celebrating western spirit is one big reason why I (along with so many of you) am so honoured to be a part of the Stampede family.