Head first on the Alberta Train

Head first on the Alberta Train

The Alberta Train
Called the "Rainbow Train" by some, the Alberta Train made its mark during the 2010 games.


- Feb. 18/10

Growing up in Alberta makes you a little crazy, and extremely outgoing. After all, how many places is sliding head first down a river-valley ice-bank, in –30C, considered recreational … and social? 

It came as no surprise, then, when I met the perfect example of an “Albertan” on the Alberta train from Whistler to Vancouver. Hadley Lamotte is a skeleton athlete, and just like the province, she’s easy to talk to and a little bit crazy. Though she’s not competing in the games this year, it’s likely Canada will be cheering her on in the future.

As the train chugs through Squamish, Lamotte answers the question everyone asks when watching skeleton: why? 

A total rush

“It’s a total rush,” she says with a contained exuberance. “The sledding community is really tight knit. We all come for a love of adrenaline. We love to train and we live to slide.” 

Even at this early hour, Hadley is jittering with energy. You can tell she’d prefer a coaster track to the relaxing plod of the train. 

Hadley Lamotte, aboard the Alberta Train, 2010
Skeleton athlete Hadley Lamotte had a blast aboard the Alberta Train.

As mentioned in our video blog here, sledders can pull up to eight Gs on some tracks; fighter pilots do seven to 10, but they have special suites. 

“It’s not so bad,” retorts Lamotte. “We’re laying down flat so the extra weight of the gravity forces through the banks are manageable. Our centre of gravity is so low, we’re actually considered the safest. It’s when you begin oscillating and your head and feet are dragging on the ice, that gets a little hairy.”

She says this all through a kind of deranged laugh, as though she likes flirting with losing control.

As crazy as her sport is perceived, Lamotte finds one Alberta past-time even worse.

No better way to travel

“I went GT snow racing with my nephew the other week. I felt bad because I push it down the track, but I got on that thing with him and screamed all the way down. Those things are nuts.”

Even though she’d rather be going head first down a sheet of ice, Lamotte agrees that if you have to be travelling, the train is the way to do it. 

“It’s relaxing and you get to meet everyone on your own time and pace.”

It was time to move on – after all this is what train travel is all about, so I bid Lamotte a good day and headed down the aisle eager to find out whom I might meet next.


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