At U Calgary, "Save a Horse - Ride a Toboggan"

Calgary engineering students test speed, style of concrete sled for upcoming race

It’s the kind of thing that could only happen in Canada.

About 20 teams, from universities across the country, are competing for bragging rights over who has the best and fastest concrete toboggan. “We’ve got the climate for it and the craziness for it so it works well,” chuckled Luke Prudence, project manager for the Schulich School of Engineering from the University of Calgary.

RELATED: Coleman’s coverage of the Northern American Concrete Canoe championships.

The team was doing an initial test on its concrete toboggan, which looks like an upside-down ironing board with rails, a steering wheel and a braking system.

The test run was for the 35th annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, one of the largest student engineering competitions in the country. It is scheduled to run from Feb. 5 to 7 in Red Deer, Alta.

The criteria for the toboggans are they have to be between 100 and 140 kilograms in weight, be able to sit five passengers and include both a steering and braking mechanism.

Testing is essential since the toboggans can reach speeds of between 70 and 80 km/hour. A number of things can factor into a winning entry.

“There’s the race itself – so pure speed and stopping distance, ability to steer – and then, of course, there’s things like team spirit and costumes,” said Prudence.

The costumes for the University of Calgary team are a bit predictable.

“The theme this year is ‘Save a Horse – Ride a ‘Boggan,’ so we’ve got cowboy hats, chaps, western shirts as well as lots of country music, unfortunately,” he sighed.

Prudence said he has high hopes for this year’s entry after finishing middle of the pack last year. The toboggan is made of items that can be recycled.

The 30 concrete toboggan team members spent months researching the design of the toboggan, testing various concrete mixes and constructing the sled.

 – The Canadian Press