Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton sleds set to fly in PyeongChang

Graphics student's unique design pays homage to Royal Canadian Air Force

CALGARY—The worlds of sport, art and military aviation will come together on Canada’s bobsleigh and skeleton sleds as they soar down the track at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Motivated by a longstanding relationship between Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and the Canadian Armed Forces, the unique Olympic sled designs were inspired by the paint scheme on the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Demo Hornet – created for Canada 150 celebrations.

“The synergies between a CF-18 jet and a bobsleigh or skeleton sled are many – speed, power, precision, performance and pure athletic ability – all while working to achieve our respective missions for Canada,” said Chris Le Bihan, high-performance director, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “From the detail and craft in the designs of their equipment to the incredible skill and performance of the pilots and athletes who are required to perform under immense pressure while representing their country, this partnership just fits.”

A fourth-year graphics student at Toronto’s George Brown College brought the relationship together through a truly unique design of Canada’s 2018 Olympic sleds. Originally from Saskatoon, Josh Dornan’s goal was to pay homage to the Royal Canadian Air Force for helping prepare the nation’s top bobsleigh and skeleton athletes for their #missionformedals in 2018.

Inspired by the CF-18 Hornet, which stirs images of a sleek Canadian flag screaming through our skies, the 27-year-old Dornan’s work evokes the same impact on ice for Canada’s top bobsleigh and skeleton athletes – a design that reflects the tremendous power of the sleds, and national pride.

‎“I am delighted the Royal Canadian Air Force, our personnel and our stunning Canada 150 Demo Hornet are serving as an inspiration to Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and our Olympic athletes. We all proudly wear the Canadian flag, and the RCAF will be cheering on our Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton teams with one strong voice during next month’s Olympic Winter Games,” said Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force

A traditional maple leaf holds each of the sleds to Canada’s heritage. The elements include a radiant red with touches of white and black that demonstrates power and speed down the track, while making a statement that the entire country is bonded behind the athletes’ #missionformedals. Orange leaves also show a modern vision of Canadian sport, while simultaneously paying tribute to the Canada 150 logos on the CF-18.

Canada’s women, two- and four-man bobsleighs will have a unique touch of their own. Influenced by the wings of the CF-18, the sides are busy and eye catching, while the sled’s nose respects Canada’s tradition by contrast. The tail of the sled demonstrates another soft connection to the jet, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton's World Cup sleds this year, and its relationship with the Royal Canadian Air Force with a small image of the jet made from the Canada 150 shards.

A direct nod to everyone in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and to fans of aviation across Canada, the inclusion of a false canopy on the bottom of the bobsleighs which is seen on CF-18 jets around the world, separates itself from all other sled designs and solidifies the connection between the aircraft and the sleds.

“I have a huge passion for Olympic sport, design and aviation. To have the opportunity to combine these three passions is a dream come true,” said Dornan, who along with Jim Belliveau, former 410 Squadron graphic designer, arrived at the Olympic team announcement by helicopter with four, first-time Olympians, to unveil the sleds. The Canada 150 jet was Belliveau’s last project as a public servant, working for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“I have tremendous respect for Canada’s high-performance athletes, and all of the men and women who serve and protect our country, so I am honoured to bring these great Canadians together in my work,” added Dornan. “I know I will have to catch my breath a bit when I watch that first sled going down the track at the Olympics, but I hope the design gives our athletes a little piece of Canada with them on the start line, and extra motivation knowing the country is behind them in their pursuit of the podium.”

In an effort to prepare its athletes mentally for international competition, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has leveraged opportunities with the Canadian Armed Forces throughout the quadrennial – from a two-day, overnight military training operation to sharing opportunities to experience flying planes and riding in bobsleighs to be a part of the World Cup and Olympic team announcements, the two groups have been side-by-side on the track to 2018.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force has a rich and proud history flying the Canadian Flag and completing successful missions while protecting Canadians around the world,” said Chris Le Bihan, who added Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton also prides itself on a tradition of excellence at the Olympic Winter Games dating back to 1964.

“In my mind, there is no better group to help our athletes prepare for our own mission. Canada’s Armed Forces have pushed our athletes to the limits mentally and physically, while providing them experiences to draw on daily. As a result, we have made history on our track to PyeongChang by qualifying a maximum number of sleds for all races.

“We realize only one step of the mission is complete, and now the real works begins. We also know the success or failure of our mission relies on the strength of our team. Drawing on words from our friends at the Royal Canadian Air Force, we will be physical and fierce, dedicated and loyal, and most importantly, great teammates united by the goal of making our team unstoppable, and our country proud.”

Canada will send six skeleton and 18 bobsleigh athletes to PyeongChang. Immediately following the team announcement, Canada’s bobsleigh athletes took Royal Canadian Air Force personnel for bobsleigh rides at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park.

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