Kelowna students leave for downhill challenge

A group of students from UBCO is ready for annual concrete toboggan race

For a particular group of engineering students, when things go rapidly downhill it’s actually a good thing.

A team of students with UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering are heading to Ontario this week to compete in the 44th annual Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR). The idea is to race a toboggan, made mostly of concrete, down a slope a quickly as possible.

In 2018, UBC Okanagan’s entry to the GNCTR is a completely new concept. This year’s team elected to change everything from the sled’s shape, skis and braking systems.

The team is especially excited about the new rack-and-pinion steering system and an innovative design that uses a brake lever in the sled that drops adjustable braking blades, explains team president Danielle Kennedy.

“We think it will be a good year. Test day is always a good indication of how the event will go and we had no issues,” she said. “Development and building process takes about 11 months. Everything culminated with successful test runs at Big White in early January.”

The steel frame along with the siding, steering, skis and braking system weighs 350 pounds and carries five riders. A 30-person contingent, primarily civil and mechanical engineering students, along with some science students, is looking to improve on the team’s second-place finishes in 2014 and 2015. They are heading to Ontario for the three-day event hosted this year by the University of Waterloo.

UBC Okanagan has had good success in the GNCTR, and hosted the event in January 2015 winning several prizes.

Following last year’s race, the team thoroughly reviewed their winning designs from past competitions and decided on a new design that they hope will continue their success in the medal rounds.

“We start the design process a week or two after returning from the competition,” says Kennedy. “Then triple-check our geometry while combining the components; with construction starting in earnest in September.”

Unlike some teams in the international competition, the UBC Okanagan sled is entirely designed and built by students, staff and faculty in the School of Engineering.

“We really appreciate the support and assistance the technicians from the School of Engineering provide to us,” says Kennedy. “They are always psyched to help and make the process really efficient and smooth.”

The 2018 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race Competition starts January 24. For news about the team and its results visit and

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon paddleboarders raise more than $40K for People Place

Third annual Stand Up For charity paddleboard event exceeds $25,000 goal

Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could see size shrink up to 20 per cent as cost-savings measure

Brain safety top of mind for Lake Country kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

UPDATE: House fire spreads to bush off Westside

Small blaze burning near Vernon in Six Mile area

Wildfire sparked at Stuart Creek near Westside Road

An air tanker has been requested, according to BC Wildfire

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

COVID-19 outbreak at South Okanagan farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: Revelstoke rallies to save snared eagle

Local climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Most Read