READY TO GO - The Australian Olympic Bobsled team poses with one of their sleds decked out in the Australian colours

READY TO GO - The Australian Olympic Bobsled team poses with one of their sleds decked out in the Australian colours

Lacombe’s Strand Media gives bobsled team a push

The Australian Olympic team is eager to show off their new, sleek sled.

A local company will have a worldwide audience after designing the look of two bobsleds for an Olympic team from Australia.

On Oct. 23, the Australian team visited Lacombe to pick up their sleds, which were having some finishing touches put on them by Strand Media.

The story behind how Strand Media came to sponsor the team takes some explaining. It is a ‘friend-of-a-friend’ situation.

Bruce Clarke, owner of Strand Media, came to know Heath Spence, pilot for the Australian Bobsleigh Team through their mutual friend, Carter Gibson.

Clarke said he has known Gibson in the past and the two have been good friends for many years. Gibson met Spence at a summer bobsleigh ride at Canada Olympic Park (COP) in Calgary, which Gibson said he did, “Just for kicks.”

Spence was the pilot for Gibson’s ride, and the two struck up a conversation. Afterwards, they stayed in contact and remained friends. Gibson even followed Spence’s progress through the America’s Cup and World Cup tours.

When Spence mentioned to Gibson that his Olympic team needed sponsors for their sled, as well as someone to design and apply a wrap for them, Gibson brought the idea to Clarke, who jumped at the opportunity.

The wraps Strand Media applied to the sleds are essentially large vinyl stickers, said Clarke. However, they are a little more durable and have a little more give to them than normal decals, he added.

In addition to the wraps, Strand Media also created and applied decals representing themselves and the team’s other sponsors on the sled. Since the team will not be allowed to display sponsors on the sled at the Olympics, these will be removed before the Games but will be displayed during training and at the qualifying races.

The designs for the sled wraps were custom made by Strand Media. For the design on one of the sleds, Spence and his teammates got handprints with messages inside them from friends and family which Strand Media transferred onto the wrap and arranged them in the shape of the Australian continent. Spence said the end result was very impressive.

“They look amazing. I couldn’t have imagined they would look this good.”

Spence said logistically, it made no sense to have an Australian company apply the wrap to the sleds.

“These sleds will never go to Australia ever.”

The sleds were designed and made in Latvia and intended for use at the Olympic Games in Russia, he explained. He added that the team will be training at COP in Calgary and so it wasn’t much of a trek to have the sleds finished in Lacombe.

Spence went on to say that most of the team’s sponsors are from outside Australia. He said that  bobsleigh isn’t a very popular sport in Australia and as such the team receives more support outside of the country, mostly in North America.

“Bobsleigh is a foreign thing in Australia.”

It was clear that Spence and the rest of his team were excited about the look of the sleds and eager to test them out on the track. While waiting for the staff at Strand Media, to finish up wrapping and detailing the sleds, Spence said that the team originally planned to start training in Calgary the day after picking up the sleds but if time allowed, they would start that very evening.

“If we get this done, we can start tonight at COP,” said Spence. “We’ll head straight to the track if we have time.”

Before making it to the Sochi Olympics in 2014, the Australians will get to test out their sleds at a few qualifying races as well. Spence said they have three races in Calgary, three in Park City, Utah and five in Lake Placid, New York.

Clarke was also happy with how the sleds turned out.

He said he hopes the endeavour will gain him some more exposure and perhaps even a logo on the Canadian team’s bobsled someday.