Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Spikes. Innovation is doing something better. That innovation takes courage and can be scary is never better exemplified than in slider sports. Not only are winners and losers separated by hundredths of a second but the path to victory is a mile long with no room for error or false moves.

In 1964, Bobsleigh was a sport dominated by Europeans with no traditions in Canada at all. But the forward thinking progressive Canadian team, that were nicknamed the 'intellectual team", literally out thought their competitors to victory. Made up of the brothers, John and Vic Emery, Doug Anakin and Peter Kirby, the Canadians slid to Olympic victory.

All four members of the team were very successful in their chosen careers and had come across the idea of filing the pads on their shoes to gain more grip when running at the start. In bobsleigh, the start is critical as anytime lost is difficult to make up in the race. With better gripping shoes the Canadians were able to get better traction and launch their sled at vastly superior speeds, and they gained an astonishing victory.

Straps. Similar clever-thinking occurred in 1972 when the luge pair, Doug Hansen and Larry Arbuthnot, invented a new starting technique at the Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo that is still used in doubles luge competition today.

At this time the front driver pushed off the ice, while the back rider moved his or her upper body in unison to assist the push. Hansen and Arbuthnot invented a strap by using two old skate laces that riders held between them as hand grips to rock the sled back and forth in unison thereby producing a much more forceful, faster and effective start.

Although the pair finished in 16th place, Hansen later remarked, "maybe we didn't win... but we were the fastest sled on the track for the fist 50 metres." And today the handgrips, although modified from the Canadian innovation, are standard equipment.

photograph of Vic Emery and Peter Kirby pushing bobsled
Vic Emery and Peter Kirby used the traction produced by using their innovation footwear to push their bobsleigh to a fast start at the 1964 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

photograph of Chris and Mike Moffat at luge start
Doubles luge athletes use a modified strap from the one developed by Doug Hansen and Larry Arbuthnot at the start to produce a unified push.
Collection: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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