Our official Irish correspondent Anna Ryan introduces you to the Irish Bobsleigh Team
I’m no sommelier of winter sports, but given that the Jamacian bobsleigh team failed to qualify for the Winter Olympics, may I suggest an alternative team to consider? Equally under-dogesque in nature, the Irish women’s bobsleigh team has qualified for the Winter Olympics for the first time following a successful run in St. Moritz. The Irish team qualified 20th with only twenty accepted into the Games from up to 26 nations, but with several qualifying two or more teams.
Pilot Aoife (say it like Eeffa) Hoey and brakewoman Leona Byrne arrived in Whistler on January 31st for a four day practice at the sliding centre and are now shacked up at the Olympic Village in downtown Vancouver, only a short stroll from the Irish Pavillion ajoining Doolin’s pub. Pavilion is a rather grandoise term for a giant marquee in a parking lot. But after a few pints, who’ll notice?
The athletes have been training in North Dublin where practice starts on a wheeled sled and is combined with a rigourous weights and gym programme. But given the lack of mountains, snow or ice in Ireland, practice happens abroad in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The wider Irish team may be seen hanging out with the Ghanian Snow Leopard in the Olympic village, while the Swiss, Americans, Canadians and all those who were born in a hot tub stroll on by.