Concrete. Metal. Snow. Glory.

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Concrete sled in snow.

By Brandon Gillet

Forget about crazy carpets and wooden rudders. Concrete toboggans are the only way to ride.

The 2016 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR), hosted by the University of Ottawa and organized by a planning committee consisting entirely of uOttawa students and alumni, takes place on January 30.

As Ottawa prepares to host students from schools across Canada and the United States, the Gazette caught up with the committee’s VP of communications, Adrian Pawliszko, to get the scoop on all of the hard work they’ve put into the event, which is sponsored by the Faculty of Engineering, PCL Construction, SNC-Lavalin and other firms.

Despite there being no mountains in Ottawa, students on the committee forged on and simply worked with what they had. They secured great venues around Ottawa for the events, including Edelweiss Ski Resort in Wakefield, Quebec, for the race itself.

“We wanted to showcase much of what Ottawa has to offer…to put it on the map,” says Pawliszko.

If you’d like to see the toboggans, check out the technical exhibition at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre on Coventry Road on Friday, January 29. Members of the public can meet the teams and check out the concrete sleds free of charge.

Pawliszko, who participated in last year’s race in Kelowna, B.C., is looking forward to seeing the new designs, especially since the rules have changed, increasing the maximum weight from 300 to 350 lbs.

“The weight increase has especially helped with creativity, though teams can get bonus points if they weigh in under 300 pounds,” he says. “There’s also been an influx of new materials, resulting in new designs.”

Some other notable rule changes include the requirement for a safety roll cage and the option of submitting a technical report in either French or English.

“There have been crashes in the past,” Pawliszko says. “Last year the main cause of crashes was that braking was too good.”

All of the planning is about to pay off this weekend. The festivities kick off with a team welcoming ceremony at the Aberdeen Pavilion on January 27, followed on January 28 by a fun day with bowling and a scavenger hunt for participants.

Pawliszko says the social events are a great chance to network. This year, for the first time, the GNCTR has collected participants’ resumés to send to event sponsors.

Don’t miss the big race on January 30. The uOttawa team plans to improve upon their third place finish last year—although they did win the award for best steering!

The GNCTR was first conceived in 1972 by Sidney Simmonds. It challenged students of engineering and technical schools to design, build and race a toboggan using concrete as the contact surface.

2016 Great Northern #concrete #Toboggan Race #GNCTR2016 via @GNCTR2016 @uOttawa

Group image of people in snowsuits.
The uOttawa GNCTR team of 2015 in Kelowna, B.C.
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