Safety Audit

In September 2010, the BC Coroner’s Report recommended that Whistler Sport Legacies undertake a comprehensive and independent safety audit of the Whistler Sliding Centre track.

In March 2011, Whistler Sport Legacies commissioned SAIT Polytechnic to complete the Safety Audit. The comprehensive 350 page report titled “Whistler Sliding Centre Sled Trajectory and Track Construction Study, An Independent Safety Audit as Recommended by the B.C. Coroner” was submitted in October 2012 and is an independent review of the track by previously unaffiliated parties.

The study recognizes that the Whistler Sport Legacies has implemented significant steps to address safety and also makes recommendations for further safety enhancements. This following Management Response highlights the scope of the safety audit project and the Whistler Sport Legacies actions to respond to the recommendations in the Report.

Please click here for the comprehensive WSC Sled Trajectory and Track Construction Study, and Independent Safety Audit as Recommended by the B.C. Coroner.

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Audit Objectives, Scope & Approach

In December 2010, Whistler Sport Legacies issued a request for expressions of interest to conduct an independent evaluation of sled trajectories within the track of the Whistler Sliding Centre. Qualified proponents were invited to respond to a Request for Proposals. In March 2011, SAIT Polytechnic was contracted to lead a consortium of industry experts to deliver a comprehensive Safety Audit of the Whistler Sliding Centre.

The scope of the study was to conduct a technical analysis of the combined bobsleigh, luge and skeleton Track at the Whistler Sliding Centre, and is the first of its kind in the world of sliding sports. The objectives of the audit were to provide observations, identify deficiencies and make recommendations for improvements in four areas including: track construction; trajectory envelope; traumatic injury and safety protection measures. These objectives were met by: conducting an “as constructed” track survey; an “as designed” versus “as-constructed” audit; developing a trajectory model and running scenarios; carrying out a retrospective incident and trauma study; and conducting a track safety audit.

The Sled Trajectory Study Consortium, under the leadership of SAIT Polytechnic, involved six lead organizations, six supporting organizations and over fifty people. The comprehensive track analysis utilized specialized resources and advanced technologies from across North America and the United Kingdom. The study involved the coordination of a global team of experts and technologies with specialties in surveying, 3 Dimensional scanning, safety audits, civil engineering and structural design and trauma.

Whistler Sport Legacies would like to acknowledge the authors and their teams and thank them for their diligence in developing this significant body of work.

Whistler Sport Legacies initially anticipated that the report would be finalized in the fall of 2011. Upon receipt of the preliminary draft report in October 2011, the study’s scope was broadened to ensure that it met the needs identified when it was commissioned. Additional audit components included a WorkSafeBC’s Certification of Recommendation (COR) health and safety management system audit, enhanced retrospective trauma analysis, and trajectory study analyses that included all sliding disciplines and considered current estimates of the coefficient of friction. In August 2012, a draft of the report was reviewed by WSL and was sent to the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT), the International Luge Federation (FIL), the Canadian Luge Association, Bobsleigh CANADA Skeleton, Ingenieurbüro Gurgel (IBG) and Stantec. The final report was submitted to WSL in October 2012.


Safety Audit Key Findings

  • Safety practices at the Whistler Sliding Centre track follow generally accepted standards with some opportunities for improvement in documentation.
  • The as-constructed geometry of the Whistler Sliding Centre track meets the design expectations.
  • The starting stations, buildings, shelters, bridges, tunnels, rail locations, and external barriers all meet design expectations.
  • The group responsible for designing the track was competent.
  • The track operator has already completed a number of track modifications to improve safety, including the recommendation from the B.C. Coroner’s Report to commission a Safety Audit.
  • More than 43,000 runs have taken place on the track since it opened in 2008 – less than 2 per cent of those runs resulted in an incident.
  • A review of all the runs showed a less than 0.5 per cent risk of an incident leading to an injury and 0.2 per cent of incidents required medical attention.
  • The risk of receiving a moderate injury at the Whistler Sliding Centre Track was found to be less than 0.1 per cent.
  • The Safety Audit recommends International Federations governing the sliding sports provide more detailed guidance on track design, a maximum safe velocity, rollover barrier design standards, safety measures, incident analysis, equipment safety and driver/slider competence and equipment.

Recommendations & Management Response

The study contains 40 recommendations; 29 for the Whistler Sliding Centre and 11 for the sliding sport International Federations. Whistler Sport Legacies supports the 11 recommendations for the International Federations and looks forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to enhance athlete safety, track design and sport development.

The recommendations for the Whistler Sliding Centre are organized into four key areas:

  • Athlete Safety
  • Track Design and Modeling
  • Track Operations
  • Document Control and Analysis

The Whistler Sliding Centre is implementing all 29 recommendations to ensure the best and safest possible experience for those that use and visit the track.

Measures to address the recommendations are included in the following three improvements to the Whistler Sliding Centre’s operations:

  • Implement a new Track Management System
  • Commitment to research and development projects
  • Foster greater dialogue between all sport stakeholders

Track Management System

The Whistler Sliding Centre is implementing a new Track Management System to strengthen its management control framework. The system is supported by an electronic information system called Digital Action Tracking System (DATS) and improved procedures and policies, including records management and change-management processes. These tools will enhance incident record keeping, investigations, analysis, and regulate modifications to the track. New protocols require that employee competencies, organizational processes and systems are regularly audited in alignment with a continuous improvement philosophy. Ongoing monitoring and regular procedural and systems audits will help provide assurance that the Whistler Sliding Centre is proactively managed.

Research & Development

Whistler Sport Legacies has initiated feasibility discussions to assess requirements for research and development related recommendations. While Whistler Sport Legacies is a keen partner in sport research and development the timing and depth of research studies will be based on funding.

External Stakeholder Communications & Guidance

The report illustrates a need for better dialogue among all sliding sport stakeholders to achieve an integrated approach to enhance athlete safety. In August 2012, the report was shared with the International Federations and national sliding associations, the track designer and consulting engineers. In October 2012, a formal meeting was held at the Whistler Sliding Centre, with national and international representatives to review key report findings and inspect the track. In the 2012/13 sliding season, the Whistler Sliding Centre will work to continually improve communications with stakeholders.


SAIT Polytechnic and the Sled Trajectory Study Consortium have produced an extensive analysis of the Whistler Sliding Centre’s track and operations. Overall, the findings and conclusions reinforce that the track was built according to the design plan and that its operation and safety practices follow generally accepted standards with some opportunities for improvement.

This audit has met the objectives set out in the coroner’s report to involve an independent and previously unaffiliated entity to carry out a Safety Audit, and provide either a new or corroborative perspective capable of restoring confidence in the Whistler track.

The report makes 40 recommendations in four key areas: Athlete Safety, Track Design and Modeling, Track Operations, and Document Control and Analysis. WSL is implementing the 29 recommendations for the Whistler Sliding Centre, and has offered full support to the International Federations for the remaining 11 recommendations.

About Whistler Sport Legacies

In March of 2007, the Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society was incorporated under the BC Society Act. The Society was established by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) to promote amateur sport and athletics in Canada by operating world-class facilities post- Games for the training, competition, and accommodation of Canadian High-Performance athletes. Those facilities include Whistler Olympic Park, the Whistler Sliding Centre, and the Whistler Athletes’ Centre.

The Society is governed by a Board of Directors. There are seven nominating entities (Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Province of British Columbia, Resort Municipality of Whistler, VANOC, Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation) that each appoint a volunteer member of the Society. The members of the Society form the Board of Directors.

The facilities were transferred from VANOC to Whistler Sport Legacies in June of 2010. Whistler Sport Legacies supports operations and capital investments through three primary sources: revenue generated from venue programs, funding from the Legacy Endowment Fund, and BC Provincial Government funding.