Pictou County's Demetre follows bobsleigh track

Adam MacInnis
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Luke Demetre

The first ride in a bobsleigh, is like riding down a steep hill in a garbage can, says Luke Demetre.

"There's lots of turns and you don't know exactly what's going on," he said.

Such was his experience in May 2010 when he filled in to help out a Halifax bobsledder in an America's Cup competition in Lake Placid, New York.

And he loved it.

Now for the second year in a row he is competing as a member of Canada's national Europa Cup team and has just returned home to Abercrombie after spending the last month competing in cities in Austria and Germany.

He started off this year's competition strong with a first place finish in Park City, Utah on Nov.12. From there he went with teammates to Igis in Austria and then Königssee and Winterberg in Germany.

"All the tracks were new in Europe so we didn't do as well over there," he said. "Each track is quite a bit different. It's like a racetrack. There's different corners, different amount of corners and different speed."

At those competitions, the teams only get six runs to test out the track.

The athletes train for months in advance to make sure they control as many of the factors as they can.

"We do loads outside where we just practice going in (the sleigh)," he said. "Once you get a good group of guys you can pretty much interchange them and it all works out."

Demetre is brakeman for his four-man team.

"We push and then each of the guys jump in. I'm the last one to actually get in and then there's two handles which I push which releases the push bars and collapses them in and then at the end I just pull the breaks."

In between the start and finish the sleigh reaches speeds upwards of 120 km/hr.

Speed and strength and both crucial qualities for the competitors which is why most bob sleigh competitors come from a football or track background.

Demetre's strength was his speed. He ran track throughout high school and at Dalhousie University and had the chance to compete at the 2009 Canada Games in P.E.I. The main area he had to work on was getting stronger so he could push the sleigh, which weighs more than 1,300 pounds when all four team members are in it.

He's continued to work on improving over the last year as he trains in Calgary.

"It's still the same thing - get bigger, stronger, faster," he said.

His goal is to someday make it onto Canada's World Cup team.  Right now, though, he's content to be representing his country at this level.

"It's pretty cool," he said. "It's something I always hoped to be doing at some point. Track was the original goal, but I'm really enjoying this now that I'm doing it."

Organizations: Dalhousie University

Geographic location: Canada, Austria, Pictou County America Lake Placid, New York.And Abercrombie Park City, Utah Germany Europe P.E.I. Calgary

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